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What Is the Difference Between Burglary and Robbery in Texas?


People often use legal terms interchangeably. For example, people in everyday conversation might say “burglary” or “robbery” to mean the same thing.

However, each term has a specific legal definition. Understanding these differences is important if you are ever accused of either crime.

This article explores the nuances of the Texas Penal Code. Looking more deeply at the law helps clarify the differences between robbery and burglary.

Burglary Under Texas Law

In Texas, burglary is when an individual unlawfully enters a habitation or any portion of a building not open to the public with the intent to commit a felony, theft, or assault.

This legal definition hinges on the perpetrator's intent at the time of entry. The entry itself does not have to be forceful or violent.

Based on this definition, here are some conclusions we can draw:

  • If someone simply enters a place where they don’t belong, this is trespassing, not burglary.
  • Burglary is not necessarily a theft crime. If someone illegally enters a building to commit any felony, this is an act of burglary.
  • A burglar does not have to carry out another crime. If they simply walked in with the intent to commit a crime, they have committed burglary.

Robbery Under Texas Law

Under Texas law, robbery is an act of theft involving violence. That violence could be the act of intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causing bodily injury to another, or it could involve intentionally or knowingly threatening or placing another in fear of imminent bodily injury or death.

The key to a robbery charge is the presence of force or the threat thereof. Robbery, therefore, is a violent crime.

A burglary can occur without a victim's knowledge, but robbery is confrontational and direct. It involves a clear and present danger to the victim.

Burglary Penalties

The penalties for burglary in Texas depend on the circumstances.

  • If the building is uninhabited at the time, a burglary is a State Jail Felony. This crime comes with fines of up to $10,000 and up to two years of jail time.
  • If the building is inhabited at the time, a burglary is a Felony of the Second Degree. Penalties include fines of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
  • If the alleged burglar tries to commit any felony other than theft, this is a Felony of the First Degree. Fines can go as high as $10,000, and the alleged offender could spend life in prison.

Penalties for Robbery

State law identifies several different types of robbery, including:

  • Carjacking
  • Bank Robbery
  • Armed Robbery
  • Home Invasion Robbery
  • And others

Texas treats robbery severely, given its violent nature. At its most basic, a robbery is a Second-Degree Felony. However, if the robbery involves a weapon or results in serious injury, the charges can be elevated to aggravated robbery, a First Degree Felony.

Here are just some of the penalties someone could face when accused of robbery:

  • Second-Degree Felony, usually involving threats but no weapon
    2 to 20 years in prison, fines up to $10,000
  • First-Degree Felony, involving the use of a deadly weapon or resulting in serious injury
    5 years to a lifetime in prison, fines up to $10,000

Defenses Against Burglary Charges

Burglary is often a lesser offense than robbery, but as we have discussed, it can still result in serious penalties. Here are some defenses you can use if you are ever accused of this crime.

Lack of Intent

You may be able to prove that you did not have a premeditated plan to commit a felony, theft, or assault. Remember, intent to commit a felony is the foundation of burglary charges in the state.

Mistaken Identity

This defense is particularly useful when evidence is circumstantial or relies heavily on eyewitnesses.

Authorized Entry

You may be able to demonstrate that you had a right to be in the alleged location.

Mere Presence or Trespassing

In some cases, a defendant can demonstrate that they were present, but they did not actively participate in the burglary. Furthermore, you could prove that you were trespassing, but you were not there to commit a felony.

Defenses Against Robbery Charges

Texas takes robbery allegations quite seriously. If you’re facing this crime, you must find a good attorney who can help you fight against these allegations. Here are some defenses you can discuss with them.

Absence of Force

You may be able to demonstrate that property was taken without the use of force, fear, or intimidation.


In this defense, you attempt to prove that you were compelled to commit the act under threat.


If you can prove that you were somewhere else when the alleged crime occurred, you may be able to damage the case against you. Receipts, GPS tags, text conversations, and eyewitnesses help you build this defense.


Many are surprised to find that intoxication is a legitimate defense against many crimes. Remember that robbery requires an intent to harm. You may be able to prove that you were under the influence of substances, and you were not in control. Therefore, you could not have had clearheaded intent. This defense can apply to legally prescribed drugs, not just voluntary alcohol consumption.

Derek A. Adame, Attorney at Law is here to help defend you against theft and violent crime allegations. To meet with our team, call us at (940) 441-4239 or contact us online.

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