Theft, Robbery and Burglary Charges…What is the Difference?
If you were charged with robbery, burglary, or other types of theft crimes in Texas, the first thing to keep in mind is that an arrest is not a conviction: You have constitutional rights and the prosecuting attorney must prove your case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a relatively heavy burden. You will have your day in court to fight the allegations and present a defense, and you have an advantage if you retain an experienced Texas theft crimes lawyer to represent your interests.
Still, you probably have a number of questions about your case. You may be confused about the differences between robbery and burglary in Texas, and how these crimes are distinct from other theft offenses. Your concerns are well-founded, but you are not alone. The definitions of theft under Texas law are extremely convoluted, and there are multiple degrees of felony and misdemeanor falling within each category.
The unlawful taking of another person’s property, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, is theft under Texas law. The statute goes on to provide that taking an item is considered “unlawful” if:
- The taking is accomplished without the owner’s consent;
- The actor takes property knowing it was stolen by another person; or,
- The property is in custody of authorities due to it being a stolen it, and the actor takes it.
There are multiple degrees of theft crimes, which are distinguished based upon the value of the property. A minor offense involving less than $100 may be a Class C Misdemeanor, though Class A Misdemeanor charges apply to amounts up to $2,500. A conviction could mean up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $4,000.
Theft is a felony is $2,500 or more, or if the subject of the crime consists of certain types of property; examples include livestock, firearms, and certain metals. State law includes harsh penalties for felonies, so you face years in prison and hefty fines for a conviction.
The crime of robbery is more serious than theft, even though both offenses refer to an unlawful taking of property. With robbery, a prosecutor must prove that, during the commission of the crime:
- You intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly cause injury to another person; or,
- You make a threat to hurt a person.
If you are arrested for robbery, you face Second Degree Felony charges. A conviction means at least two and up to 10 years of incarceration, plus a maximum fine of $10,000.
If you enter into a structure without consent, for purposes of committing a felony, theft, or assault, you could be arrested for burglary. This crime is among the most serious types of theft crimes in Texas, but you do not even have to take any property to be charged. The fact that you intended to unlawfully take something inside the structure is enough to support a conviction. Burglary is always a felony, but the nature of the charges depends upon the type of building you enter.
- If you enter into a residential building or habitation, the crime is a First-Degree Felony punishable by at least five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- If the structure is not a dwelling, Second Degree Felony charges apply, so you face a minimum of two years’ incarceration and a $10,000 fine.
Defenses to Property Crimes
There are multiple defenses to theft, robbery, and burglary offenses, which could help you reduce your punishment or beat the charges entirely. If officials violate your constitutional rights, such as by engaging in an illegal search or seizure, any evidence they obtain could be thrown out of court.
Discuss Your Case with a Collin County Criminal Lawyer
Regardless of whether you are charged with robbery, burglary, or other theft offenses, you need a skilled attorney to assist with your case. You could face serious penalties, including jail time, fines, and probation. Plus, you could have a conviction on your permanent criminal record, which has harsh consequences for your future.
At Rosenthal Barbieri, our Collin County theft lawyers have in-depth knowledge of criminal law, backed up by years of experience in a Texas courtroom. We can tell you more about your criminal defense options after reviewing your case, so please call us at (972) 369-0577 to schedule a free consultation. You can also visit our website to learn more about our legal services.