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What is Burglary in Lubbock, Texas?

Burglary is typically defined as the unauthorized entry into a structure with the aim to commit a crime, most commonly theft. In Lubbock, Texas, there are different types of burglary. They mainly include:

  • Burglary of a vehicle: A person commits this offense if the offender enters a vehicle without the owner's express consent, with the intent to conduct a felony or steal from the vehicle.
  • Burglary of a coin-operated machine: This occurs when an individual breaks or enters into a coin-operated machine, a coin collection machine, or any other coin-operated or coin collection receptacle with the intent to steal.
  • Burglary of a building or habitation happens when a person enters a non-public building or habitation without the owner’s or occupant’s consent with the intent to commit a crime such as theft or assault. It also applies when the offender remains concealed in a building or residence to commit crimes.

A building refers to any enclosed structure intended for use as a residence or for any other purpose such as trade, manufacturing, or as a public facility. In contrast, habitation is a structure or vehicle meant specifically for overnight use. 

According to the 2018 FBI Uniform Crimes Report, Lubbock city ranked first among Texas cities for property Crime in 2018, with 2.16 percent of the population experiencing property crime. In particular, the city police department and other local law enforcement agencies reported 2,312 cases in 2018, and 2,391 instances in 2019.

What is the Difference Between a Robbery and Burglary in Lubbock, Texas?

Although burglary and robbery are theft offenses, they are fundamentally different. A burglary happens when someone enters a structure or dwelling with the aim to commit a crime, theft, or violence. On the other hand, a robbery occurs when an offender, while committing theft, performs any of the following: 

  • Deliberately and intentionally causes physical harm to another person
  • Intentionally threatens or places another person in fear of immediate bodily injury or death. 

A robbery charge can also be elevated to an aggravated robbery charge if any of the following conditions are met:

  • Another individual was seriously injured as a result of the perpetrator's actions
  • The perpetrator wielded or displayed a lethal weapon, such as a firearm or any instrument designed or fitted to cause death or serious bodily harm.
  • The victim was either above the age of 64 or incapacitated.

Robbery is classified as a second-degree crime, whereas aggravated robbery is classified as a first-degree felony.

Overall, robbery is a violent crime, but burglary is not. Burglary may occur even when the victim is absent or unaware of the theft. As a result, there is typically little to no chance that violence will be employed to perpetrate the crime. On the other hand, the victim is aware of the theft during a robbery. This is because the offense requires forcibly stealing from another person.

Law enforcement reported 443 robbery cases in 2018 and 468 cases in 2019.

How to Beat a Burglary Charge in Lubbock, Texas

When someone is charged with burglary in Lubbock, it means that a formal accusation has been filed against them. If convicted, it can severely impact an individual's life and professional prospects. 

As a result, defendants facing burglary charges are strongly advised to employ the services of skilled counsel to represent them in court and protect their rights. The attorney’s legal expertise puts them in the best position to present a strong defense on their client’s behalf and secures the best possible outcome which may include dismissal, acquittal, or in some cases, negotiating a reduced sentence.

An experienced burglary attorney can rely on various defenses that are legally applicable and fit the circumstances of the case against the accused. The attorney may raise the defense of:

  • Misunderstanding. A burglary attorney may demonstrate that their client was given permission to enter the premises, eliminating a crucial component required for a burglary conviction.
  • Insufficiency of evidence. This sort of defense entails arguing that the prosecution failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspected burglar was the perpetrator of the offense. If the perpetrator's description can be applied to any number of persons, the attorney may be able to establish that the case is an instance of mistaken identity. 
  • Alibi. In circumstances when the defendant was not apprehended at the site of the crime, an alibi is frequently the most effective defense. It may be possible to escape a conviction if the accused's counsel can provide witnesses or other evidence that indicates that the accused was someplace else other than the location of the crime at the time of the incident.
  • Lack of intent. Intent is another key element in a burglary case, and the prosecutor is obligated to prove that the accused entered a specified structure or property with the intent to perpetrate theft or another felony. If the attorney can demonstrate that the defendant did not enter the premises with that intent, the defendant will not be found guilty of burglary.
  • Illegally acquired evidence. Suppose the accused was inappropriately questioned, or the prosecution's evidence was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure.  The question of the admissibility of such evidence may be raised in court, and everything (including evidence and oral admissions) gathered via the unlawful techniques may be excluded from the trial, leaving the prosecution with a weaker case. 

What are the Degrees of Burglary in Lubbock, Texas?

Burglary offenses in Lubbock are divided into three categories. These are:

  • State jail felony
  • 2nd-degree felony
  • 1st-degree felony.

Typically, a state jail felony is committed in a structure that is not used for habitation and accommodation purposes, while a 2nd-degree felony and a 1st-degree felony are both committed in a habitation. However, a 1st-degree felony specifically constitutes entering a habitation illegally with the intent to commit a felony other than theft.

State jail felonies are punished by imprisonment in a state jail facility for a period ranging from 6 months to 2 years. 2nd-degree felonies are punishable by more severe penalties, including 2 to 20 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $10,000. 1st-degree felonies are regarded as the most serious of the three degrees of burglary in Lubbock. As a result, they attract the most severe penalties, which range from 5 years to life imprisonment and fines.

Despite this, certain burglary charges may be classified as misdemeanors according to state laws. For instance, burglarizing a vehicle or a coin-operated machine in Lubbock is a Class A misdemeanor in Texas. If convicted, an individual faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and a fine of up to $4,000. But, if the defendant has a criminal history that includes two or more identical counts, the charge may be elevated to a state jail felony.

Residential Burglary vs Commercial Burglary

Residential burglary is, at its core, the breaking and entering of a dwelling. Suppose a person enters or remains illegally in a residence that is used for lodging purposes, such as a house or vehicle used for accommodation, with the intent to commit a crime against a person or property, the person may be charged with residential burglary.

On the other hand, commercial burglary is defined as unauthorized entry into a commercial facility or property suited for commercial use. It also includes accessing such property illegally with the intent to conduct a crime, cause damage, or inflict injury.

Overall, the most significant contrast between residential and commercial burglaries is the location of the crime, and more precisely, the use of the property that was burglarized.