What is the Difference Between Burglary and Theft Under Texas Law?

Although burglary can include an element of theft, burglary and theft are separate crimes under Texas law with distinct elements and penalties. Due to the unauthorized entry that characterizes a burglary, penalties for burglary may be more severe than they are for theft.

Tex. Pen. Code § 31.03 defines theft as the unlawful and non-consensual taking of property from its owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of the benefits or usage of that property. Under this code section, theft can take various forms. For instance, theft charges can result from:

  • Theft of services
  • Theft by writing bad checks
  • Organized retail theft
  • Receiving stolen or embezzled property

The value of the property involved determines the level of the charges and accompanying penalties for theft. These charges can range from a Class C misdemeanor offense for property worth less than $100 to a first-degree felony for property worth $300,000 or more. The theft of some items of property, however, results in a specific criminal charge regardless of their value. For instance, theft of a firearm is always a State jail felony, no matter the value of the firearm.

What is the Difference Between Burglary and Theft Under Texas Law?

In contrast, Tex. Pen. Code § 30.02 defines burglary as occurring when individuals enter a home or building and intend to commit, attempt to commit, or commit a felony, theft, or assault. Burglary also occurs when individuals remain hidden with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault in a building or habitation. The main distinction between theft and burglary is that burglary involves entering a building without consent and may involve the commission of a crime other than theft.

In contrast, Tex. Pen. Code § 30.02 defines burglary as occurring when individuals enter a home or building and intend to commit, attempt to commit, or commit a felony, theft, or assault. Burglary also occurs when individuals remain hidden with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault in a building or habitation. The main distinction between theft and burglary is that burglary involves entering a building without consent and may involve the commission of a crime other than theft.

The penalties for burglary generally are harsher than those for theft. Burglary of any building other than someone’s home is a State jail felony offense. A conviction for a State jail felony can result in a sentence of incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years, as well as a $10,000 fine. Burglary of a commercial building that houses controlled substances, when the person entered the building to steal controlled substances, causes the charges to increase to a third-degree felony offense. Penalties for a third-degree felony conviction can include from two to a ten-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine if the burglary involves someone’s home, however, the charge is a second-degree felony, which can lead to a jail sentence of two to 20 years and a $10,000 fine.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against any criminal charges. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case and explore your options. We can then help you make the decisions that are mostly like to be beneficial to you based on your situation. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

Related Articles:

Posted in Theft Crimes

How Can We Help You?

Our team is standing by to help. Call us at (512) 474-4445 or complete this form to send a message about your legal situation.