Parnham & Associates
Criminal Law Attorneys in Houston, Texas
When it comes to criminal law cases, an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney can mean the difference between a prison sentence and reduced or dismissed charges. The lawyers of Parnham & Associates are dedicated to defending the rights of the accused and our criminal defense attorneys are committed to the presumption of innocence. Even in less serious cases, a good criminal defense attorney can make a serious impact on the outcome of the case by ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected throughout the legal process. For these and other reasons, it is vital that those accused of a crime select the most competent, experienced and effective attorney available.
Texas Burglary of a Habitation:
In this three part series of videos criminal attorney George Parnham discusses the charges of burglary to a habitation as provided under Texas state laws.
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Texas Property Crimes Law
The law firm of Parnham and Associates handles offenses charged by both the State and Federal Court systems, nationally and within the State of Texas. The firm's extensive experience in criminal defense ranges from simple to complex litigation.
Texas State Law provides for several different types of burglary charges. Generally speaking, burglary is distinguished from other theft crimes because of the element of entering into a building with the intent to criminally steal another person's property, or to commit a felony. You can be charged with burglary if any part of your body has entered the building; for example, simply holding a flashlight in the door or window of a building that is not open to the public with the intention of stealing something from that building.
Burglary & Criminal Trespass:
Although similar, burglary and criminal trespass are two separate crimes in Texas. To get a conviction for burglary a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that without consent of the owner, the defendant entered a private habitation with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault. Entering a vehicle or breaking into a coin-operated machine with the intent to commit a felony or theft is also considered burglary. For burglary, even if the felony, theft, or assault did not take place, a defendant may be found guilty, even if all he/she had was the intent to commit a crime.
Texas Penal Code states that you have committed the offense of burglary if you, without consent:
- Enter a habitation or building not open to the public with the intent to commit a felony
- Conceal yourself in that habitation/building and commit/attempt to commit a felony
Burglary of a building that is inhabited (such as a house or an apartment) without the permission of the owner and with the intent or actual commission of theft or felony, that is considered as burglary of habitation. Burglary of a habitation is considered as a second-degree felony in the state of Texas, and may be sentenced with prison term from two to twenty years. If there is intent to commit another felony or an actual commission of it during the burglary, the offense will be elevated to a first-degree felony, which is punishable by a life sentence or up to 99 years in prison. In addition, there is a potential fine up to $10,000 dollars.
Although similar, burglary and criminal trespass are two separate crimes in Texas. Under Texas Penal Code § 30.05, the definition of criminal trespass is more complex than simply being on someone else's property. To begin with, the law defines property as including "...residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle". This means that criminal trespass can encompass all sorts of public and privately owned property intended for different types of use. People can be convicted of criminal trespass when they unlawfully cross residential property, commercial property, agricultural property, forest land, and even government property. It is also unlawful to trespass in an area with an oil refinery, chemical manufacturing facility, water treatment plant or an electrical power generating facility.
Unlike the charges for burglary, criminal trespass charges do not require any intent of theft or felony. Also, although you can be charged of burglary simply by having any part of your body on the property (i.e., holding a flashlight through a window or door in order to survey the contents of a room), criminal trespass requires that your entire body be on the property.
In order for someone to be convicted of criminal trespass, they must have either been given notice that entry to a property is forbidden, or they must have been told to leave the property and then either failed to leave or returned to the property (still without consent). Notice can be given in several ways; it can be an oral or written communication by the owner or someone acting for the owner, it can be a fence or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock, or it can be in the form of sign posted in a location reasonably likely to be noticed. On forested or agricultural property, notice can be in the form of readily visible purple paint marks of proper size and placement on trees or posts spaced no more than 100 feet apart on forest land or 1,000 feet apart on non-forest land. Notice can also simply be the visible presence of any crop grown for human consumption that is under cultivation, in the process of being harvested, or marketable if harvested at the time of entry.
Criminal trespass is normally a Class B misdemeanor with a fine up to $2,000 and a jail term up to 180 days. If the trespass is on agricultural land, and the trespasser is apprehended within 100 feet of the boundary of the land, the offense is a Class C misdemeanor with a fine up to $500. Agricultural land is broadly defined and includes land suitable for growing plants (for food, feed, fiber, seed, etc.) or trees or for keeping farm or ranch animals. However, under certain conditions including if one has a deadly weapon on or about one's person the offense is a Class A misdemeanor with a fine up to $4,000 and a jail term up to one year.
Criminal defense strategies applied in these situations need to be created for the particular offense, evidence involved and based upon the defendant's needs. Contact Parnham & Associates today at (713) 224.3967 or use our convenient online submission form. We will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. .
Our attorneys are intimately familiar with all facets of criminal defense and may help clients with the following:
- Work to get the charges dropped or lowered
- Interview police, involved parties, and any possible witnesses to expose any lies or exaggerations
- Make sure that no evidence against our client was obtained illegally
- Conduct a thorough pre-trial investigation
- Employ a private investigator, ballistics expert, polygraphist, or any other experts that may be able to help strengthen our client's defense
- Obtain expert witnesses to testify on behalf of our clients
- Negotiate with prosecutors to make sure our clients face the minimum possible penalties
If you have been accused of a crime, please contact us today for a free consultation with an aggressive and resourceful criminal defense attorney. We will work tirelessly to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
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The Law Office of Parnham & Associates
440 Louisiana St., Suite 200 (The Lyric Centre), Houston, TX 77002
Phone: (713) 224.3967 | Fax: 713.224.2815
This is for general informational purpose only. This information: • DOES NOT represent a legal advice or opinion, • DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship, • DOES NOT account for community-supervision eligibility, special punishment issues, mandatory minimum confinement, enhancements, and "Exceptional Sentences" under Chapter 12 Subchapter D of the Texas Penal Code, • DOES NOT apply Corporations & Associations. • DOES NOT represent the unique circumstances of your case.