BMV (Burglary of a Motor Vehicle)
Burglary of a Motor Vehicle is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. Learn more about the offense of Burglary of a Motor Vehicle, the possible punishment range, and defenses that may apply.
What is Burglary of a Motor Vehicle?
Burglary of a vehicle is defined in Texas Penal Code Section 30.04 as breaking into or entering a vehicle without the owner’s consent with intent to commit a felony or a theft. Burden is on the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that without the consent of the owner the defendant entered a vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft.
“Entering” Requirement for Burglary of a Motor Vehicle:
For this type of crime, “entering” a vehicle means to intrude any part of the person’s body or any physical object connected to the person’s body into the vehicle. Entry must be in the enclosed portion of the vehicle and not the outside of the vehicle. (See examples) Further, burglary pertains equally to an unlocked vehicle that is entered, even if the property damage through breaking and entering did not occur.
- For Example: Bob has the intent to remove property from Sam’s truck and he reaches into the open bed of Sam’s truck with the required intent. This will be entering a vehicle for purposes of this crime.
- For Example: Bob removes hubcaps from Sam’s truck without his consent, but he does not make an entry into Sam’s truck. This will not be considered entry for purposes of this crime.
“Consent” and “Intent” Requirements for Burglary of a Motor Vehicle
Texas law requires that there be no effective consent of the owner, for this crime to happen. Similarly to burglary of a coin-operated machine, there also has to be intent to commit a felony or theft. These two must occur simultaneously. (See defenses)
Defenses to Burglary of a Motor Vehicle
For a burglary of a vehicle, there are several possible defenses: negating one or more elements of burglary (lacking intent to commit theft); having consent of the owner of the vehicle; voluntary intoxication; and entrapment or coercion. The most susceptible element to attack is the intent requirement because the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had the intent to commit a theft or a felony when he entered the vehicle. Our team of Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyers regularly handles these types of cases and understand how to find the best defense strategy for your charge.
- For Example: A hiker who breaks into a mountain cabin to find shelter from a storm, and then discovers and steals a valuable item from the cabin, has not committed burglary. The entering and intent to steal did not occur at the same time.
Common Issues with Burglary of a Motor Vehicle
Unlike robbery, the crime of burglary rarely involves a confrontation between the perpetrator and the victim, meaning that the law enforcement investigators must resort to piecing together circumstantial evidence. A lot of times, law enforcement will arrest an individual based on assumptions versus evidence. Most common issues in these types of cases are statements by the accused, physical evidence such as blood or fingerprints and the intent of the defendant. When you are facing a criminal conviction for a circumstantial case, you need our team of Fort Worth Criminal Lawyers to investigate your case and advise you of the best outcome.
Punishment for Burglary of a Motor Vehicle
This crime is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor offense, the highest level misdemeanor offense in Texas. There are several types of penalties involved for this type of crime that can be either combined or ordered separately: fines, jail, probation, and restitution. (Texas Penal Code Section 12.21)
- Fines: A Class A Misdemeanor offense in Texas has a potential fine of up to $4,000.
- Jail: Convictions for a misdemeanor offense can result in up to a year in a county jail. Jail sentences can be imposed in addition to fines or they can be given as a separate punishment.
- For Example: A Texas court may sentence someone convicted of a burglary of a motor vehicle to a $1,000 fine, while someone else also convicted of the same crime to 60 days in jail.
- Restitution: This type of a penalty is common when someone commits a crime that results in property damage or the loss of property. If ordered restitution, one must pay a specific amount of money that is designed to compensate the owner for the loss of property or the expenses associated with the damage. Restitution must be paid in addition to any fines or jail time.
- Probation: Probation sentences may last up to two years with the possibility of extension.. The court will require a person on probation to comply with a wide range of probation conditions such as maintaining employment, not committing more crimes, reporting to a probation officer, paying all fines and restitution and performing community service. Violation of probation can result in additional penalties, such as increased fines or having to serve the remainder of the sentence in jail.
Enhanced Punishment for Burglary of a Motor Vehicle:
If it is shown at trial that the individual has been previously convicted of burglary of a vehicle, the punishment is a class A misdemeanor with a minimum confinement of 6 months. If it shown that the individual has been previously convicted of burglary of a vehicle two or more times, the punishment is a state jail felony. The punishment is also a state jail felony if the vehicle or part of the vehicle broken into or entered is a rail car.
Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorneys
Our team of experienced Fort Worth criminal defense lawyers are ready and able to defend your burglary of a vehicle charge. Our team has over three hundred jury trials worth of experience and two of our top attorneys are board certified in criminal law.
Call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. During this call we will:
- Discuss the facts of your case;
- Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
- Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.
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