Our legal system is not usually known for being a quick and easy process. In fact, it can be incredibly time-consuming and complicated, especially when you’re not familiar with it. Legal distinctions and jargon usually leave the people involved feeling confused, overwhelmed, and frustrated.
To solve that, we’ve taken a moment to outline the basics of theft and burglary charges. These two crimes are often confused with each other, but they each have specific definitions, penalties, and profound implications for the people involved. If you or a family member has been accused of one of these crimes in Brazoria County or the surrounding area, call the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC today. With our extensive experience in criminal defense, we can shed light on the specifics of your case, and help you plan for the rest of your life.
Legal Definitions and Nuances
Theft, as defined under Texas law, is the unlawful accumulation of property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner. It’s an umbrella term that captures a broad variety of crimes, like shoplifting or corporate embezzlement. Depending on the value and nature of the property stolen, theft can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony.
Burglary, on the other hand, involves unauthorized entry into a building with the intent to commit theft, assault, or any other felony. Burglary is not dependent upon the actual theft, but the unlawful entry and the intent to steal. It’s a more complex crime, with categories ranging from a Class A misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Illegal entry into someone’s home while brandishing a firearm is an example of what might be considered a first-degree felony charge.
The Consequences of Theft and Burglary
In Brazoria County, the legal consequences of theft and burglary are no small matter. Theft penalties get harsher as the value of the stolen property goes up. Likewise, fines and prison sentences increase if the theft involves certain “enhancements.” An enhancement to a theft charge might involve firearms, illicit drugs, or stealing from a particularly vulnerable group, like the elderly.
On the other hand, burglary convictions hinge on the location of the crime and the defendant’s intentions. Fines and prison times increase for the reasons above, but burglary itself is one of theft’s “enhancements.” Thinking about the charges this way can help you see them from the perspective of our Texas court system. This way, you can set realistic expectations for the outcome of your case.
Common Theft and Burglary Cases
Is taking a bike from an unlocked garage burglary or theft? Does shoplifting mean you stole something or you burgled it?
Understanding common theft and burglary charges requires untangling the circumstances and intent behind each crime. If a person takes a bicycle from an unlocked garage, the crime becomes burglary because it involves entering a building with the intent to commit theft. This holds true even if the garage door was wide open. The unlawful entry, with the specific intent to steal, is what defines it as burglary.
Shoplifting, on the other hand, is almost the exact definition of basic theft. Since a person usually enters a business lawfully, stealing an item that’s for sale is not considered burglary. This would only be considered burglary if the item was stolen after business hours and the thief entered illegally. Instead, shoplifting is defined as an act of concealing or taking goods away, and not by the method of entry.
The differences between burglary and theft in these common examples always hinge on the entry and intent. Understanding these distinctions is important for those facing criminal charges, and those forming a successful defense to protect them.
Sentencing for Theft and Burglary
In Brazoria County, the penalties for theft and related crimes are set according to the value of the property stolen and other specific circumstances. The law starts with theft under $100 being a Class C misdemeanor, which typically results in a fine. As the value of the stolen property increases, so does the severity of the charge. Theft becomes a state felony once items are valued between $2,500 and $30,000. Theft charges can also reach the state felony level if they involve stealing firearms or stealing from graveyards.
Additional factors can lead to harsher sentences. If the theft involved an elderly victim or if the accused is a repeat offender or public servant, the charges can jump to a higher category.
Burglary sentences differ based on whether the crime took place in a building or a home, and also if other felonies were involved. The charges can range from a state felony for burglary of a business, up to a first-degree felony for entering someone’s home with intent to commit a felony other than theft.
Advice for Those Accused of Theft or Burglary in Brazoria County
- Exercise Your Rights: If you’re accused of theft or burglary, remember that you have rights, including the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. It’s in your best interest to use these rights and not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer.
- Understand the Charges: Get clarity on what you’re being charged with and the potential consequences. Knowing whether you’re facing a misdemeanor or felony can help in planning a defense.
- Seek Professional Help: Most importantly, consult with a criminal defense attorney who specializes in theft and burglary cases in Brazoria County. For personalized guidance and to ensure your side of the story is heard, reach out to the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, PLLC for a consultation.
The Best in Theft Defense
At the Law Offices of Keith G. Allen, our expertise in Brazoria County’s legal proceedings is your resource. We’ve helped countless families move on after theft or burglary charges, so they don’t define their lives. Call our friendly staff today at (832) 230-0075 and let us guide you to a better future.