Austin Robbery & Burglary Attorney
Robbery and Burglary Charges In Travis County
Robbery and burglary are two of the most common types of criminal charges not just in Austin, TX, but throughout the country. Convictions for burglary or robbery charges in Texas can carry serious penalties, and without an experienced Austin robbery lawyer, these charges can be difficult to defend against in court. A typical robbery charge is punishable as a second-degree felony and could land you a 20-year prison sentence depending on the seriousness of the crime. The crimes are not to be taken lightly and it’s always recommended that you seek counsel from a trusted burglary defense attorney in Travis County.
Robbery is a very serious crime and is charged as a second-degree felony. It can be thought of as theft plus assault. If both of those elements are present at the same time, then the person can be charged with robbery.
Let’s look at it a little closer. Do you think that if someone steals an object – say a purse that is on a countertop, and he leaves, he accidentally bumps into her. Is this robbery or simple theft? Maybe counterintuitively, it can actually be charged as a robbery. The “bump” counts as an assault, and this is enough to meet the elements of the robbery.
As with many crimes, robbery exists on a spectrum. It is very likely that in the scenario I laid out, the charge would eventually be dropped by the prosecutor to simple theft, even if they could prove all the elements beyond a reasonable doubt. However, if we change the facts a little – say the defendant punched the alleged victim as he was leaving, knocking her to the ground, now we have a robbery charge that is more difficult to deal with. Every situation is different.
Because robbery includes the element of assault, it is considered a violent crime. Violent charges are treated severely by judges and prosecutors, so Robbery is not a charge to take lightly. It is not even necessary for there to be any physical contact – the mere threat of imminent bodily injury or death is enough to support the robbery charge. Additionally, each alleged victim can be treated as a separate robbery charge. If you or a loved one is charged with robbery, it is important to have an experienced Austin robbery attorney review your case.
Aggravated Robbery (29.03)
When we think about the robbery from the movies, it’s probably more in line with what Texas would call aggravated robbery. Aggravated Robbery is charged as a first-degree felony, meaning the sentence can range from 5 years, all the way up to life in prison.
There are several ways that a normal robbery can be bumped up to the aggravated robbery. The first is if, during the commission of the robbery, he or she causes serious bodily injury, which means injury that creates “substantial risk of death”, or “causes serious permanent disfigurement … or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.”
The second way is to use or exhibit a deadly weapon. Obviously, a gun or a knife is what we usually think of when we hear the term deadly weapon. But it can extend to mean much more than that. Even a BB gun or a screwdriver can be considered a deadly weapon in the right circumstances. Whether it counts as a deadly weapon in a particular circumstance is a question for the jury.
Third, the charge is considered aggravated robbery if the alleged victim is disabled, or over 65 years old. This law is meant to protect our vulnerable populations, and means that aggravated robbery can be implicated even if the injuries don’t meet the definition of “serious bodily injury.”
We often think of burglary as when a person breaks into a residence to steal. This certainly is burglary, but it can also be burglary if he or she breaks in to commit any felony, theft, or assault. Therefore, if a person breaks into a building or habitation not to steal, but to assault someone, that can be charged as burglary. It is a very serious charge that can go all the way up to a first-degree felony in some circumstances.
Burglary of Habitation
Simply speaking, a habitation is a place where someone lives. This can include vehicles like RVs as long as they are “adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons”. This type of burglary is considered very serious because of the risk of injury or death for the victims. It is usually charged as a second-degree felony, with a sentencing range of two to twenty years. However, if the intent of anyone in the party is to commit a felony other than theft, it can be charged as a first-degree felony.
Burglary of a Building
Burglary of a building is considered less serious than burglary of a habitation. The elements are the same as burglary of a habitation, but the prosecutor does not need to show that the building is a dwelling. It is charged as a State Jail Felony with a potential 2-year jail sentence. It can also be bumped up to a third-degree felony in certain cases where controlled substances or prescription medications are involved.
Burglary of a Vehicle (30.04)
Burglary of a vehicle is a common charge and generally considered less serious than burglary of a building, but should still be considered a serious charge. It is a class A misdemeanor with a potential jail sentence of 1 year. It can also be a felony in some circumstances. If there is a previous burglary of a vehicle conviction (or nolo contender or deferred adjudication), it can be charged as a State Jail Felony. It can also be a more serious felony in some cases where the aim was theft of a controlled substance.
Defenses To Robbery and Burglary Charges
Burglary and robbery charges often require the State to prove all the elements to multiple crimes. It is important to have an experienced Austin robbery defense lawyer that can put the State to task on every single element. If even one element can be defeated, the charge will not stand.
Burglary is also one of the few crimes that require the State to prove specific intent – that is intended to commit a specific crime (theft, assault, etc.) Since the State must use extrinsic evidence to show a person’s state of mind, this is an element that can often be attacked.
Contact an Experienced Austin Robbery Attorney
Robbery and burglary charges can be complicated, with many elements that the prosecutor must prove. It is important to have an experienced Austin burglary lawyer fighting at your side, putting the prosecutor to the task. For burglary or robbery defense in Austin or surrounding counties, contact us for a free case evaluation. Payment plans are available.