If you are facing charges of home invasion, burglary, or trespass in Texas, you might not know the differences between them. Here’s an explanation of the three charges and the penalties associated with each one.
Also sometimes called “residential burglary,” the charge of home invasion falls under the heading of burglary charges, but there’s a significant difference between it and a regular burglary. Home invasion is a specific reference to a burglary that happens within a habitation.
The law defines a habitation as any structure or vehicle adapted for overnight accommodation of one or more persons. This includes house trailers, recreational vehicles, and even a car that someone is using as a place to live.
Home invasion, or “burglary of a habitation,” is a second degree felony. This charge applies when the defendant enters or remains inside a habitation with the intent to commit felony theft or assault therein. The charge of home invasion can be raised to a first degree felony if the defendant entered the habitation with intent to commit a felony other than felony theft.
Burglary is defined by Texas law as an offense committed by entering a habitation or building, without the consent of the owner, with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault. The charge also applies if a person remains concealed with the intent to commit a felony, such as if someone stays hidden in a store to steal merchandise after the store closes.
Burglary charges also apply if someone breaks into coin-operated or coin collection machines, or breaks into a vehicle, with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault. Even if the felony, theft, or assault was not committed, the burglary charge still applies if the intent to commit the crime can be proven.
If you are convicted of burglary, you may face a state jail felony if the crime was committed in a building other than a habitation. As noted previously, a second degree felony charge applies if the crime was committed in a habitation, and it can be bumped up to a first degree felony if the intent was to commit a felony other than felony theft.
To be convicted of criminal trespass, the defendant must have entered or remained on someone else’s property without their consent, and must have had notice the entry was forbidden, or failed to follow the notice to leave.
Criminal trespass applies on residential or agricultural land, in a building, in a recreational vehicle park, or in an aircraft or vehicle. The main difference between criminal trespass and burglary is that criminal trespass lacks the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault upon entry.
A Class C misdemeanor charge applies if the trespass is committed on residential land, on or within 100 feet of agricultural land, or within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area. A Class B misdemeanor charge applies otherwise. The charge may be upped to a Class A misdemeanor if the offense occurred in a habitation or other specific locations, or if the defendant carried a deadly weapon during the trespass.
Misdemeanor charges can mean fines and jail time, and felony charges are even more serious. If you are facing any of these charges, speak to a knowledgeable Fort Worth criminal defense attorney. They will understand the specifics surrounding your case and will work to build a solid defense on your behalf.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.