Texas Penal Code 30.04 – Burglary of Vehicles
WHAT IS BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS?
Burglary of a vehicle is breaking into or entering any part of a vehicle, without the owner’s permission, with intent to commit a felony or theft.
WHAT IS THE BURGLARY OF VEHICLES LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 30.04. BURGLARY OF VEHICLES
(a) A person commits an offense if, without the effective consent of the owner, he breaks into or enters a vehicle or any part of a vehicle with intent to commit any felony or theft.
(b) For purposes of this section, “enter” means to intrude:
(1) any part of the body; or
(2) any physical object connected with the body.
(c) For purposes of this section, a container or trailer carried on a rail car is a part of the rail car.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that:
(1) the offense is a Class A misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of six months if it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted of an offense under this section;
(2) the offense is a state jail felony if:
(A) it is shown on the trial of the offense that the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of an offense under this section; or
(B) the vehicle or part of the vehicle broken into or entered is a rail car; and
(3) the offense is a felony of the third degree if:
(A) the vehicle broken into or entered is owned or operated by a wholesale distributor of prescription drugs; and
(B) the actor breaks into or enters that vehicle with the intent to commit theft of a controlled substance.
(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor entered a rail car or any part of a rail car and was at that time an employee or a representative of employees exercising a right under the Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C. Section 151 et seq.).
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS?
The first and second time a person commits burglary of a vehicle, it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail. If a person burglarizes a vehicle, and has two previous convictions or deferred adjudications for burglary of a vehicle, the third offense is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility.
Burglary of a vehicle is a third degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison, if the person breaks into a prescription drug distribution vehicle with the intent to steal controlled substances.
Texas law increases the penalty classification for burglary of a vehicle to the next highest category, or to minimum confinement of 180 days in jail for a Class A misdemeanor, if a person commits the offense in an area subject to an emergency evacuation order, or under a declaration of a state of disaster by the governor or president of the United States. See Tex. Penal Code § 12.50.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for burglary of a vehicle charged as a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail, and up to a $4,000 fine. Burglary of a vehicle enhanced to a state jail felony by two previous convictions carries between 180 days and two years in a state jail facility, and up to a $10,000 fine. Burglary of a prescription drug distribution vehicle, a third degree felony, carries between two and ten years in prison, and a maximum $10,000 fine.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS?
As an alternative to prison or jail, a person charged with Class A misdemeanor burglary of a vehicle is eligible for probation after a conviction, or deferred adjudication without a conviction, for up to two years. The probation period for a state jail felony or third degree felony burglary of a vehicle conviction is between two and five years. If placed on deferred adjudication for a third degree felony burglary of a vehicle, the period may not exceed ten years.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS?
Typically, a person accused of burglary of a vehicle will assert he or she did not intend to commit theft or a felony, or did not break into or enter the vehicle.
- What does it mean to break into or enter a vehicle? “Breaking into” can mean opening a vehicle’s latch or locking device for the purpose of making entry into the vehicle. Courts have also upheld reaching into the bed of a pickup truck to steal property as breaking the close of the vehicle, constituting an entry. See, e.g., Richardson v. State, 888 S.W.2d 822 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994). However, taking something from the exterior of a vehicle, such as tires or hubcaps, is not an entry, or breaking the close. Griffin v. State, 815 S.W.2d 576 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for Class A misdemeanor burglary of vehicles is two years. If charged as either a state jail felony or third degree felony, the limitation period is five years.
BURGLARY OF VEHICLES IN TEXAS
Burglary of a vehicle is breaking into or entering another’s vehicle without the owner’s permission, with intent to steal the vehicle’s contents, or commit any other felony. Actual theft or commission of a separate crime is not required—just the intent to do so. Once the unlawful entry is made, the crime of burglary is complete, regardless of whether a person accomplishes the intended theft or felony.
TEXAS BURGLARY OF VEHICLES COURT CASES
The case law regarding burglary of vehicles in Texas clarifies the various elements of the offense, such as what constitutes a vehicle, what it means to break into or enter, and one’s intent to commit theft or a felony offense.
- What is a “vehicle”? A vehicle propels, moves, or draws a person or property “in the normal course of commerce or transportation.” In one case, the defendant on trial for burglarizing a car without a motor or rear wheels argued the car was not a “vehicle.” But he was found guilty, and the appellate court affirmed, holding the car was nevertheless designed and constructed for use as a vehicle. It is not the vehicle’s temporary immobility that controls. Van Dalen v. State, 789 S.W.2d 334 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1990, no pet.).
In another case, a defendant stole chairs from the victim’s boat. The jury convicted him of burglary of a vehicle, and the appellate court affirmed. A boat is included in the term “vehicle” under the statute. Wade v. State, 833 S.W.2d 324 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1992, no pet.).
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DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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