Facing a Burglary Charge in Fort Worth?
Have you, a friend or a loved one been accused of burglary?
If you have been arrested for a burglary of a habitation, burglary of a building or burglary of a vehicle in Fort Worth or the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas, it is critical to hire an aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorney to help you get your case dismissed. Additionally, it is critical to educate yourself on Texas criminal law regarding the crime of burglary and what the State of Texas will be required to prove to sustain a conviction in court.
The crime of burglary is broken down into felony burglary and misdemeanor burglary. The most common examples of felony burglary include burglary of a habitation and burglary of a building. The most common examples of misdemeanor burglary include burglary of a vehicle and burglary of a coin operated machine.
We must break down the crimes of felony burglary to understand what is required by the State of Texas to prove the charge and what defense are available to you and your criminal attorney to protect your freedom and your criminal record.
Burglary of a Habitation
The criminal offense of burglary of a habitation involves breaking into a person’s residence with the intent to commit theft or the intent to commit a felony, such as assault.
Under Texas criminal law, to be convicted for burglary of a habitation, the prosecution must prove that the accused broke into or entered another’s property without their consent and dwelled within the property for a period of time with the intent of committing theft or a felony offense, such as assault.
Burglary of a habitation is a second degree felony, punishable by a minimum of two years, up to twenty years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Burglary of a Building
The criminal offense of burglary of a building is like burglary of a habitation in that it must be proven that you entered or broke into the building of another with the intent to commit a theft.
Burglary of a building is a state jail felony under Texas law, punishable by a minimum of 180 days up to 2 years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine.
Criminal Defenses to Felony Burglary Charges
If you have been charged with burglary of a habitation or burglary of a building, it is likely that you are facing felony charges that, if convicted, could result in grave consequences that could include fines and time in the penitentiary. Considering that your freedom and future could be in jeopardy, it is important that you hire an aggressive and skilled criminal lawyer to assist you in avoiding a conviction that could result in prison time and large fines.
The best way to ensure you maintain your freedom is to formulate a defense that puts you in the best possible position to get your burglary charge dismissed.
Burglary Defense #1 – You Did Not Enter Into The Residence or Building!
The State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you entered the residence or building to convict at a jury trial. There have been many instances where an assault or theft has taken place at a property, but it is unclear whether the assault or theft occurred INSIDE the residence or building or outside. This is a critical fact that must be proven by the prosecution. Remember, you do not have the burden to prove anything, but the State of Texas always has the burden to prove every element of burglary, including that you ENTERED the residence or building.
For example, Bobby goes to Joe’s house to confront him about making advances to his girlfriend. The two men have a heated exchange on the front porch of the house that leads to Bobby punching Joe. There is a strong argument that the prosecutor will be able to prove that Bobby drove to Joe’s house with the intent to assault him. However, did the assault take place inside the threshold of the residence or on the porch? This is a critical difference.
The failure by the State of Texas to prove the element of entry into the residence or building will result in the charge being lowered to a misdemeanor level charge. We have seen many burglary of a building or burglary of a habitation charges dropped to a lesser misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass or assault bodily injury.
Burglary Defense #2 – You Did Not Have The Required Criminal Intent!
The State of Texas is also required that you entered the residence or building without the consent of the owner WITH THE INTENT to commit a crime (theft, assault, etc.). Is it possible someone could enter a building or residence and not have the specific intent to commit a theft or assault? Of course! Failure to prove that the accused had the specific intent to commit a crime when they entered the residence or building will result in a not guilty verdict at a jury trial.
For example, John entered his neighbor’s house, and the neighbor came home to find him inside his home. The police were called, and John was questioned for the crime of burglary of a habitation. John had a watch that was his in his hand that he had left over at his neighbor’s house from the previous day. Should John be charged with burglary of a habitation? NO! In this situation, there is no evidence to support that he had intent to commit theft. On the contrary, there is evidence that he entered only to retrieve his only property. Now, there might be sufficient evidence to establish a charge of criminal trespass, but not burglary.
Burglary Defense #3 – You Reasonably Believed You Had Consent To Enter!
What if you were under a good faith belief that you had consent to enter a residence or building and that you could take something from the location? The State of Texas must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did not have consent of the owner at the time you entered the residence or building. If you can show you were acting in good faith that you reasonably believed you had consent, the prosecutor will have a challenging time proving the charge.
For example, you are told by someone you believed to be the owner of a building that they closed their doors and went out of business and the location has been abandoned. He tells you that you are welcome to go over and look through the fixtures and take what you want. You show up at the location, look through the fixtures and decide to take a few items with you. As you load them up in the back of your truck, a police officer arrives and arrests you for burglary of a building. Little did you know, the owner did close his doors and file bankruptcy, but the bank now owns the building and the contents of the building. Should you be charged with burglary of a building? NO! Why? Because you were acting under a reasonable, good faith belief that you were permitted to enter the building and take items and this consent was given from somebody you reasonably believed was the owner.
Grand Jury Presentation
The defense examples provided above provide a few examples of how a felony burglary charge can be successfully defended and dismissed. However, facing a felony burglary charge provides a unique opportunity to have your case resolved in a more efficient manner through the grand jury process.
In Texas, every felony crime must be presented to a grand jury. A grand jury has the responsibility of hearing a summary of the case facts and determining whether there is probable cause to proceed forward with the charge. The only positive part of being charged with a felony burglary of a habitation or burglary of a building is that your experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney can gather evidence favorable to your defense and make a presentation to the grand jury.
Upon your criminal attorney presenting favorable evidence to the grand jury, the members of the grand jury will have the following options: keep the charge as a felony burglary, lower the charge to a lesser misdemeanor charge (criminal trespass, theft, or assault), or No Bill the charges. A no bill of your felony burglary charge would be the equivalent of a dismissal. However, most felony burglary charges in Tarrant County, Texas are presented to a grand jury within the first 30 – 60 days. It is important not to wait to get an aggressive criminal lawyer to jump on your criminal defense to ensure you can show you are innocent at the grand jury.
Burglary of a Vehicle
Burglary of a vehicle is a misdemeanor burglary charge that requires the State of Texas to prove that you entered the car, truck, or vehicle of another, without their consent, with the specific intent to commit theft of property. Burglarizing a car is the most usual form of burglary and happens more frequently in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas than all other types of burglary. It is important to remember that the prosecutor must prove more than the fact you entered another person’s car. There must be proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you entered a car with the intent to commit theft. Failure to prove this specific intent element of the crime will result in a not guilty verdict at trial.
For example, a homeless man was walking the streets of Fort Worth, Texas during the bitterly cold winter of February 2021. He was trying to find a warm place to sleep because he was freezing to death. He forced his way into a car parked on the side of the street and the owner found the man asleep in the back seat of the car. Did this homeless man commit the crime of burglary of a motor vehicle? No! Why? Because although he may have forced his way into the vehicle, was there any evidence that he intended to commit theft when entering the vehicle? From this example – no! Now, if he damaged any portion of the car, he could be charged with criminal mischief, but not burglary of a motor vehicle.
Burglary of a motor vehicle is a Class A Misdemeanor under Texas criminal law, punishable by up to 1 year in the Tarrant County jail and up to a $4,000 fine.
The Best Burglary Lawyer In Fort Worth, Texas – The Hampton Law Firm!
Every client that calls our office charged with the crime of felony or misdemeanor burglary has the same goals: stay out of prison or jail, avoid a felony or misdemeanor conviction, and resolve the case in a manner that allows them to get the arrest and charges off their criminal record. At The Hampton Law Firm, we will work tirelessly to achieve these goals for every client.
At The Hampton Law Firm, you will work with a team of former Tarrant County Prosecutors with over 80 years of criminal law experience and over 500 criminal jury trials in the courts of Texas. You need a team of criminal lawyers that will take the time to show you your evidence, explain what you are facing, outline a detailed plan of defense and answer all your questions.
If you have been arrested and charged with a burglary in Texas, you need an aggressive and experienced criminal lawyer on your side. A burglary conviction could carry with it the prospect of jail time, hefty fines, and other serious long-term consequences. Do not gamble with your freedom and your future.
Contact the Hampton Law Firm now to schedule a free consultation to determine your rights and legal options.