In Texas, burglary and robbery are two very distinct offenses, but often used interchangeably. If you’ve been charged with either of these crimes, it is important to understand the consequences that you may face.

Burglary in Texas

Under Texas Penal Code 30.02, you commit burglary if you enter a building or structure without the consent of the owner, with the intent of committing a felony, theft or assault. The notion of “breaking and entering” is typically associated with burglary. However, one does not have to actually break in to have committed the offense. Simply entering a house or business that does not belong to you, through an open door or window, with the intent to commit a crime, satisfies the elements for burglary.

For example, your neighbors are at work all day and you’ve been eyeing their nice, new television that’s visible through the window. You go to the front door, and surprisingly, it’s open. You step inside, take the T.V., and leave. You’ve just committed a burglary.

But what if you don’t actually commit a crime inside the dwelling?

You could still be charged with burglary. Take the above example. You step into your neighbor’s house through the open door but suddenly their 100 pound German Shepard comes charging at you. Terrified, you exit the same way you came in. Although you did not actually take anything, the intent was still there. The fact that you intended to take the television is enough to charge you with burglary.

Robbery in Texas

Unlike burglary, robbery involves a threat or act of violence. Texas Penal Code 29.02 defines robbery as, if during the course of committing a theft, someone:

(1) intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another; or

(2) intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.

In other words, robbery is theft using physical force or fear. Although robbery is considered a crime of violence, the victim need not be injured for you to be charged with robbery. Take a look at these examples:

You’re walking on the street and see someone pulling money out of the ATM. You walk up to that person and punch them in the face and run away with their money. You have just committed a burglary.

But, say instead you walk up to this person and say, “If you don’t give me your money right now I will kill you.” This is a threat that puts the person by the ATM in fear of death. Although you never used any physical violence, you have committed a robbery.

Punishment for Burglary and Robbery

The punishment for robbery and burglary in Texas can vary significantly, and depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the offense.

Burglary Punishment

Robbery Punishment

Defenses to Burglary and Robbery

Because burglary and robbery are two very different offenses, the defenses will be different. In order to be convicted of either robbery or burglary, the prosecutor must prove intent. However, if you did not intentionally or knowingly enter into someone’s house to commit a felony, then the burglary charge will be difficult to prove. Similarly, if you never intentionally or knowingly threatened someone when taking their money, you may only be guilty of a lesser theft offense. Defenses to these cases often hinge upon the facts and other nuances. Speak with an experienced attorney to understand what defenses are available to you.

If you or a loved one have been accused of committing either robbery or burglary, contact my office so that we can get started on protecting your rights and your future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.