If you are accused of burglary in Texas, you may be looking at a felony or misdemeanor charge, depending on the circumstances. This is because the crime carries two illegal acts, i.e., entering someone else’s property uninvited and committing or intending to commit an offense.
According to Texas criminal law, burglary is defined as the unlawful entering or staying in a private property with the intent to steal, assault or commit any other illegal activities. There are three elements to this charge: entering a habitation, structure or an area not open to the public; remaining concealed in the said places; committing or intending to commit a felony or any theft once inside.
Entering and remaining concealed
There are two ways of entering a building: through an unlocked door or window or by breaking into the property. The first one is considered a misdemeanor, while the latter is classified as a felony. As for remaining concealed, this means hiding in plain sight or using false pretenses to gain entry into the premises. If you are caught in the act of burglary, there is no need for prosecutors to prove you intended to commit a crime inside — your actions alone are enough to convict you of the said offense.
Penalties for burglary in Texas
The penalties for burglary in Texas depend on the classification of the crime. A misdemeanor charge is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and imprisonment of up to one year in county jail. On the other hand, a felony charge is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of two to 20 years in state prison.
If charged with burglary, there are several defenses you can use to minimize penalties or have the case thrown out. One is proving that you had no intention of committing a crime inside the property. Another is challenging the evidence against you, especially if it was obtained through an illegal search and seizure. You can also argue that you were mistakenly identified as the perpetrator or were given permission to enter the premises.