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  • Burglary and Criminal Trespass

Dallas Criminal Defense Lawyers

There are a variety of laws in Texas concerning both burglary and criminal trespass. The two theft crimes are similar, but each contain different elements and burglary is the more serious of the two offenses.

Texas Law: Elements of Burglary

In order for the prosecution to prove burglary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (without consent of the owner), the alleged offender entered a private residence or a part of a building that is otherwise off limits to the public. Furthermore, the state must show that while the alleged offender was at this location, he intended to commit a felony, theft, or assault.

In the alternative, the state can prove the offense by showing that the defendant stayed hidden with an intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault. Also, the crime can be proven if the state offers evidence to show that the defendant did in fact commit a felony, theft, or assault at the location.

Furthermore, entering a vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft is also considered burglary and may be charged as such.

Texas Law: Elements of Criminal Trespass

For the crime of criminal trespass, Texas law states that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant entered or remained on the property of another without the person’s consent, and the defendant was on notice that the entry was prohibited, or received notice to vacate but failed to do so.

General “notice” related to this offense can be established through a variety of ways. Of course, the owner of the property can verbally inform the individual to vacate the premises, but there are additional methods as well. For example, a fence is deemed to be effective notice of prohibited entry. Furthermore, a conspicuously posted sign alerting the public to forbidden entry would be considered sufficient notice under the law.

The main element that differentiates between the violations of burglary and criminal trespass is that there is no required intent for criminal trespass.

Associated Penalties for Burglary and Criminal Trespass in Texas

The penalties associated with each of the charges will depend on the level of severity and whether the defendant has been convicted of the crime previously.

  • Burglary of a residence: Second Degree felony; 2-20 years imprisonment and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Burglary of a non-residence: State Jail felony; 180 days-2 years in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
  • Burglary of a coin-operated machine: Class A misdemeanor; up to one-year in jail and/or up to $4,000 in fines.
  • Burglary of a vehicle: Class A misdemeanor; minimum jail sentence of 6 months along with a potential fine of $4,000.
  • Criminal trespass: Treated as a misdemeanor; the type of misdemeanor (A, B, or C) is determined based on the type of property of the land in issue.

Criminal trespass will be charged as Class A if the property is characterized as: habitation or shelter center, a Superfund site, or in a critical infrastructure facility.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you have been arrested on a charge of criminal trespass or burglary and need legal representation, contact an experienced professional who will work with you to create a compelling defense in order to get you the best outcome possible for your case.

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