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Criminal Defense Attorney

Burglary, Robbery & Theft Charges

From our very first meeting, I will thoroughly review the details of your case, including any suspicion of police misconduct.

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Burglary, robbery & theft are most common among those in our society that are suffering financially or feeling desperate. Everyone makes mistakes. Financial difficulties, health setbacks, and life circumstances often make people desperate. Difficult situations can lead them to make spur of the moment decisions they later regret. In criminal cases, what seemed like a short-term solution often results in long-term consequences. Under Texas law, burglary, robbery, and theft are distinct crimes that involve taking property from an individual or business without permission.

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Criminal Defense Lawyer TX

Burglary

Burglary, robbery & theft are three separate crimes under Texas Law. Robbery is similar to burglary, except robbery involves using or threatening force to steal. This covers a variety of criminal activities, including bank robbery, mugging, and carjacking. Additionally, a related charge known as “aggravated burglary” is a burglary committed with a deadly weapon or one that causes the victim serious physical harm. Whereas simple burglary is prosecuted as a second-degree felony, aggravated burglary is punishable as a first-degree felony.

Burglary itself does not necessarily require proof the defendant stole or took anything. Rather, burglary refers to entering a private building or structure without the owner’s consent and with the intent to commit some other crime. A person who simply enters another person’s property and remains there despite the owner’s prohibition may be charged with criminal trespass, which is normally a misdemeanor offense.

In order to prove burglary, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did any of the following:

  • The defendant entered a building or habitation (i.e., a private residence) that was not otherwise open to the public, with the intent to commit theft, assault, or some other felony.
  • The defendant remained concealed in a building or habitation–i.e., hiding inside–with the intent to commit theft, assault, or some other felony.
  • The defendant entered a building or habitation and attempted to commit a theft, assault, or some other felony.

Burglary of a habitation is considered a second-degree felony in Texas. This means if convicted, an offender faces a potential prison sentence of anywhere from 2 to 20 years and a fine that may not exceed $10,000. The charge may be further elevated to a first-degree felony–and thus a possible life sentence–if the defendant entered the habitation and either attempted or intended to commit a felony other than theft (such as assault).

Most other burglaries are prosecuted as state-jail felonies, although burglaries of hospitals or similar buildings for the purposes of stealing controlled substances are classified as second-degree felonies.

Theft

The definition of theft is relatively straightforward. It is the unlawful taking of another person’s property without his consent with the intent to deprive him of it. In other words, if you take things that do not belong to you, you can be charged with theft.

Under the Texas Penal Code, several theft-related crimes are prosecuted under a single code section. Theft crimes include receiving stolen property, embezzlement, writing bad checks, shoplifting, and others. Depending on the severity of the crime and the amount of money or goods stolen, the penalties range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. The specific value ranges and offense levels are as follows:

  • Theft of property worth less than $100 is a Class C misdemeanor for a first offense, or a Class B misdemeanor if the defendant has any prior theft convictions.
  • Theft of property worth between $100 and $750 is a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Theft of property worth between $750 and $2,5090 is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Theft of property worth between $2,500 and $30,000 is a state jail felony.
  • Theft of property worth between $30,000 and $150,000 is a third-degree felony.
  • Theft of property worth between $150,000 and $300,000 is a second-degree felony.
  • Theft of property worth $300,000 or more is a first-degree felony.

There are also a number of special cases identified in the Texas Penal Code with respect to theft, including the following:

  • Theft of a driver’s license or a government-issued personal identification certificate is a Class B misdemeanor.
  • Theft of any property from a human corpse or grave is a state jail felony.
  • Theft of a firearm is a state jail felony.
  • Theft of an official ballot or official carrier envelope related to an election is a state jail felony.
  • If a public servant commits theft of property that came into their custody due to their official role, that public servant can be charged one level higher than the normally applicable theft offense. This same rule also applies to offenders who commit theft against an elderly individual or a nonprofit organization.
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Robbery

Many people assume that “robbery” is just another word for theft or burglary. But it actually refers to a distinct type of crime under the Texas Penal Code. Robbery is actually a consequence of theft. Specifically, if a person is committing theft, and while doing so “ intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury” to another person, that is considered robbery.

It is also robbery if the thief merely “threatens to place another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.” In other words, robbery is a theft that also involves some actual or threatened harm to another person. So if you steal an item from an empty building and never encounter another person, that would be considered theft, but not robbery.

Because of the harm to others, robbery is also treated much more seriously than petty theft. All robbery is classified as a second-degree felony in Texas. Unlike theft, the value of the stolen property does not elevate or reduce the charge. So if convicted of robbery, a defendant faces between 2 and 20 years in state prison, as well as a fine that cannot exceed $10,000.

There is also a potential first-degree felony charge–meaning possible life in prison–if prosecutors can prove there was an “aggravated robbery.” Aggravated robbery refers to a robbery that meets any of the following criteria:

  • The defendant used or exhibited a “deadly weapon,” such as a firearm while committing the robbery.
  • The defendant actually caused “serious bodily injury” to another person while committing the robbery.
  • The defendant caused or threatened “bodily injury” to a person over the age of 65 or an individual with some form of mental, physical, or developmental disability who is “unable to protect” themselves from harm.
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Defense You Can Count On

If you have been arrested for burglary, theft, or robbery, the first thing you need to decide is whether or not to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Some people think they can handle things themselves and they do not need a lawyer. This is almost always a mistake. While hiring a qualified criminal defense will not guarantee you a “not guilty” verdict, your chances of obtaining a more favorable outcome are greatly increased if you exercise your right to the assistance of counsel.

As criminal defense attorneys, we have an intimate understanding of the criminal justice system in Galveston County. We know the police, the prosecutors, and their methods. We have also handled hundreds of cases that are similar to yours. This experience allows us to provide you with the best advice possible for your situation. At the same time, we will give you honest advice regarding the possible outcomes. In some cases, it may be in your best interest to negotiate a plea bargain. Other times, a trial may be your best bet at avoiding a potential felony conviction that will follow you for the rest of your life.

From our very first meeting, I will thoroughly review the details of your case, including any suspicion of police misconduct. Most of the time, first-time offenders can avoid jail time by participating in court-approved community programs. I will help you weigh the pros and cons of accepting a plea bargain versus taking your case to trial.

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    When you have been charged with a crime, you need experienced criminal defense lawyers who focus exclusively on defending criminal cases and who will aggressively protect your rights. Throughout our careers, We have successfully handled every type of criminal defense case. More importantly, criminal defense is the only thing we do.

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