Breaking and Entering in Texas

In Texas, what is commonly known as breaking and entering is officially referred to as “criminal trespass” under the Texas Penal Code. While less serious than burglary, criminal trespass is still a crime punishable by fines and jail time. However, when someone is busted for breaking and entering, the team at Peveto Law can often negotiate a solution that minimizes the effect that a conviction would have on a client’s record.

What is breaking and entering in Texas?

A breaking and entering charge falls under the Criminal Trespass section of Texas Penal Code 30.05. According to the statutes, a person commits criminal trespass if he enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without consent. It must also be shown that the person either: (1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or (2) received notice to leave but did not do so.

Breaking and entering requires the intrusion of the entire body into the forbidden area, unlike burglary which can be committed by inserting any body part or anything connected to the body. Another difference is that breaking and entering does not require the commission of, or intent to commit, a crime once in or on the property.

What is “notice” for purposes of criminal trespass?

Criminal trespass charges require that the accused had “notice” that his entry on the land was not permitted. The statute gives many examples that constitute “notice”, including:

  • Oral or written communication, either by the owner or by someone else with apparent authority to act on the owner’s behalf;
  • A fence or another enclosure that appears to be designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;
  • Signage posted on the property or at the entrance to the building indicating that entry is not permitted, as long as it is reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or
  • The placement of identifying purple paint marks on trees or posts on the property, provided that the marks are placed according to specific standards set out in the statute.

Consequences of breaking and entering in Texas

A typical criminal trespass charge is a Class B misdemeanor, carrying a potential penalty of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Criminal trespass can be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor if the criminal trespass is to a habitation, family violence shelter center, on a Superfund site, in a critical infrastructure facility, or if carrying a deadly weapon, potentially resulting in 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000. It can be a Class C misdemeanor if the trespass is on agricultural land while within 100 feet of the boundary of the land, or if it is on residential land while within 100 feet of a protected freshwater area. A Class C misdemeanor carries the lightest penalty of a fine up to $500 and no jail time.

Jail time and fines, however, are just the beginning of the potential results of a breaking and entering charge. Other direct consequences can include mandatory classes or diversion programs, community service, or court supervision.

Indirect consequences of a criminal conviction

Often overlooked are the indirect consequences of a criminal record; it can cause handicaps in important areas of life for many years to come. Conviction of a crime such as criminal trespass can lead to:

  • Suspension of driver’s license
  • Limitations in obtaining a job
  • Denial of public housing
  • Inability to own a firearm
  • Limited ability to obtain student loans
  • Jeopardization of immigration status

Skilled North Texas criminal defense attorney Andrew Peveto can often work with prosecutors to reduce penalties and at times even avoid a conviction altogether. When a criminal conviction cannot be avoided, it may also be possible for an attorney to later have the record expunged, limiting the effects of conviction on hiring, housing, and in other important areas.

Breaking and entering Texas lawyer

Fighting a breaking and entering charge requires understanding of Texas criminal laws, experience in local courts, and an understanding of client needs and goals. Texas property crime lawyer Andrew Peveto is committed to serving clients throughout North Texas, including the Plano and Dallas-Fort Worth areas as they work through what is often the worst time of their lives.

As a Texas native who has defended over 1,000 criminal cases, breaking and entering lawyer Andrew Peveto understands the needs of local residents. He always takes the time to listen with empathy and search for a creative solution. If you are facing a property crime charge in Texas, call today for a free confidential consultation.

Additional resources on Texas breaking and entering laws:

  1. Texas Constitution & Statutes, Penal Code Title 7 Offenses Against Property Chapter 30 Burglary and Criminal Trespass, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/PE/htm/PE.30.htm
  2. Texas Attorney General, Penal Code Offenses by Punishment Range, https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/files/divisions/criminal-justice/PenalCode-Offenses-byRange.pdf
  3. The Texas Politics Project, Crimes and punishments: Statutory Wrongdoings and Its Consequences, https://texaspolitics.utexas.edu/archive/html/just/features/0201_01/crimeandp.html