Most people probably think robbery and burglary are interchangeable phrases for theft or stealing. Stealing is always considered stealing, right?
In Texas, state law defines theft in multiple ways with specific punishments assigned for each type of crime. When considering robbery vs burglary, there are different attributes to each crime that make them different. It is essential to understand these differences if you are being charged with either crime to ensure you are fully aware of all possible consequences.
Types of Theft Charges in Texas
In Sec. 31.03 of the Texas Penal Code defines theft as:
A person commits an offense if he unlawfully appropriates property with intent to deprive the owner of property.
When an individual takes an item that the owner does not give any type of consent to take, that is considered theft. It is also considered theft when an individual accepts an item they know was stolen property or an individual tricks the owner of an item to give that item away.
The severity of a theft charge ranges based on the value of the stolen property. Theft crimes can range from a Class C misdemeanor for an item valued at less than $100 to a first-degree felony for items valued over $300,000.
There are typically fines involved with minor theft charges. However, the consequences of a felony conviction are serious for first-degree theft charges, and a person could land themselves in state prison for up to 99 years.
Charges of theft can be elevated to robbery charges depending on the circumstances. Robbery is defined under Section 29.02 of the Texas Penal Code as:
An individual committing theft who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person or intentionally or knowingly threatens or places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.
Robbery is considered a second-degree felony offense due to the violent nature of the crime and carries a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison.
This can change, however, if the property owner was seriously physically injured or a deadly weapon was shown during the incident. In these instances, charges of aggravated robbery can be brought forth. Aggravated robbery is a first-degree felony and a conviction can potentially result in up to 99 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 per offense. For robbery charges to hold, the victim must be present during the crime. This is not the case, however, for burglary charges.
Section 30.02 of the Texas Penal Code states that:
An individual commits burglary if he or she, without consent of the owner, enters a habitation or a building (or any portion of a building) not currently open to the public, with intent to commit a felony, theft, or an assault.
Burglary charges are considered felonies and range in severity based on the type of structure entered. Theft does not have to occur for an individual to be charged with burglary. The person committing burglary does not even have to enter a structure by force or with their physical body if an instrument was used to enter the building.
Burglary of a building, not a habitation, carries a possible state jail sentence of 180 days to two years. Burglary of a habitation, though, is considered a second-degree felony with a potential prison sentence of two to 20 years.
If a person burglarizes a habitation with intent to commit a felony other than theft – criminal assault, rape or murder for example – the charges increase to a first-degree felony and that person could be sentenced to life in prison. There are also significant fines associated with burglary charges of up $10,000.
If you are facing criminal theft charges, be it theft, robbery, or burglary, it is absolutely essential that you hire an experienced robbery lawyer to help you navigate your case. We know just how stressful, frustrating, and frightening this process can be, and how easily it is to feel overwhelmed. The legal system can be complicated, but you don’t have to face it alone. The Pearland Criminal Defense Lawyers at J.D. Silva & Associates are ready to work with you on a one-on-one basis to make sure that all details in your case are heard and the most successful possible defense strategy is devised.