Burglary of a Motor Vehicle
When automobiles are stolen, authorities may be able to identify the offenders when they locate the vehicles. In carjacking cases, victims will have seen the people who stole the automobiles.
Many common break-ins, however, do not involve the actual motor vehicles being stolen. The case is much harder for the state to prosecute without any eyewitnesses. These incidents can still involve significant property damage or losses, and alleged offenders who are accused of committing these offenses can face very serious criminal charges.
Houston Burglary of a Motor Vehicle Lawyer
Do you believe that you are being investigated or have you already been arrested for automobile burglary in Southeast Texas? Horak Law helps clients facing these types of charges in several communities in the greater Houston area, including Missouri City, Spring, League City, Galveston, Sugar Land, Pasadena, The Woodlands, Conroe, Richmond-Rosenberg, and Pearland.
Harris County burglary of a motor vehicle attorney Matt Horak has more than a dozen years of experience with all types of theft and property crime cases. He will provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to take advantage of a free, confidential consultation.
Harris County Burglary of a Motor Vehicle Overview
- When can a person be charged with this crime?
- What are the possible consequences for alleged offenders if they are convicted?
- Are there any common defenses in these kinds of cases?
- Where can I find help if I have been the victim of vehicle burglary?
Under Texas Penal Code § 46.02, a person commits burglary of a vehicle when he or she—without the consent of the owner—breaks into or enters a vehicle or any part of a vehicle with the intent to commit any felony or theft. Many important distinctions should be considered when reviewing this statute.
An alleged offender does not need to physically break a window or pick a lock in order to be charged with this offense. Any unauthorized entry into a vehicle with the intent to commit a crime—even if the automobile was unlocked—can constitute burglary of a motor vehicle.
Additionally, entering may mean intruding with any part of the alleged offender’s body or any physical object connected with his or her body. This means that a person could be arrested for this crime if he or she puts a crowbar, coat hanger, or some other object through a car window even though he or she never physically entered the actual automobile.
Alleged offenders who are convicted of this crime will frequently face a combination of harsh punishments. Like most cases involving damage to or loss of property, people convicted of these types of crimes will be ordered to pay restitution in order to compensate alleged victims.
Sentencing in these cases depends on whether the alleged offender has been previously convicted of this crime:
- First Conviction — Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000;
- Second Conviction — Class A misdemeanor punishable by a minimum term of confinement of six months up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000; or
- Third or Subsequent Conviction — State jail felony punishable by a minimum of 180 days up to two years in a state jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
The alleged offender can also be charged with a state jail felony if the vehicle or part of the vehicle that was broken into or entered was a rail car, regardless of the number of times he or she was previously convicted.
Just like any other criminal charge, an alleged offender’s guilt in these types of cases needs to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. That requirement can be incredibly hard to satisfy when a prosecutor’s evidence relies heavily on eyewitness testimony that is usually remarkably questionable.
Every case is different, but some of the most common defenses against motor vehicle burglary charges include without being limited to:
- Consent of owner to enter vehicle;
- Lack of evidence;
- Mistaken identity;
- No intent to commit any felony or theft; or
- Ownership claim (entered vehicle to reclaim property that belonged to alleged offender).
Auto Theft Division - City of Houston — This division of the Houston Police Department is responsible for investigating the burglaries of motor vehicles in the city. You can learn about the five units that comprise this division, including the Houston Auto Crimes Task Force (HACTF) or Grant Unit, the Proactive Unit, the Incoming Case Investigations Unit, the Special Investigations Unit, and Auto Dealers.
1200 Travis Street
Houston, Texas 77002
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) Auto Theft & Burglary Prevention — You can find all sorts of information about auto burglary on this website. There are tips to protect your vehicle, steps to take if your car is stolen or broken into, and tips to keep in mind to avoid buying stolen property.
Finding a Houston Lawyer for a Burglary of a Motor Vehicle Charge
If you are under investigation or have been arrested for allegedly committing automobile burglary anywhere in Southeast Texas, you should immediately seek legal representation. Matt Horak is a criminal defense attorney in Houston, TX who will fight to get these types of criminal charges greatly reduced or completely dismissed so you will incur the fewest possible penalties.
Horak Law serves several areas in and around Houston, including Galveston County, Waller County, Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Brazoria County, Montgomery County, and Harris County. You can have our Harris County burglary of a motor vehicle attorney review your case as soon as you contact our firm at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 to schedule a completely free initial consultation.