Texas Burglary and Criminal Trespass Laws
Although similar, burglary and criminal trespass are two separate crimes in Texas. To get a conviction for burglary, the more serious of the two, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that without consent of the owner, the defendant entered a private habitation with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault. Entering a vehicle or breaking into a coin-operated machine with the intent to commit a felony or theft is also considered burglary. For burglary, even if the felony, theft, or assault did not take place, a defendant may be found guilty, even if all they had was the intent to commit a crime.
The Difference Between Burglary and Criminal Trespass
The difference between these two related offenses is best explained through an illustration. Suppose Bob broke into Mary's house in hopes of stealing her new television. However, once he broke in and entered the house, the alarm went off and Bob fled the scene. Even though Bob did not take anything from Mary's house, since he intended to do so upon entering, Bob may be found guilty of burglary.
On the other hand, for a defendant to be convicted of a criminal trespass, the only things a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt are:
- The defendant entered or remained on the property of another without the person's consent; and
- The defendant had notice that the entry was forbidden, or received notice to leave but failed to do so.
The main difference between criminal trespass and burglary is the intent, or lack thereof, to commit a felony, theft, or assault once the defendant has entered the property.
Texas Burglary and Criminal Trespass Laws: The Basics
|Statute||Texas Penal Code § 30.01 - § 30.07|
|Statutory Definition of Burglary||
A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, the person:
|Statutory Definition of Criminal Trespass||
A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person:
|Burglary Offense Classifications||
|Criminal Trespass Offense Classifications||
|Penalties and Sentences||
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a Texas criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
- Texas Theft/Larceny Laws
- Texas Criminal Statute of Limitations
- Burglary Defenses
- Burglary Penalties and Sentencing
- Defending Yourself Against a Criminal Charge
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Whether you're an animal rights activist who ventured too far onto a cattle feedlot or broke into a home with the intent to steal valuable jewelry, burglary or criminal trespass offenses can get you into big trouble. Having the assistance of the right lawyer can make a huge difference. Get started today with a free evaluation from a Texas criminal defense attorney today.