Burglary Defense Attorneys Serving the Accused on State and Federal Levels
While most burglary cases involve a building or a home, the charges can still apply to the unauthorized entry of someone else’s vehicle. Cars, trucks, boats, and most other vehicles are subject to state burglary laws.
To convict you of burglarizing a vehicle, the prosecutor must prove that:
- You entered someone else’s vehicle, and
- You did not have the owner’s consent for such entry, and
- Your intention was to a commit a felony or theft.
Often, these cases involve someone who enters a car by mistake. They may believe it’s a vehicle belonging to someone they know, or there might simply be some confusion as to whether the defendant had permission for entry at the time.
The intent element, meanwhile, is even harder for the state to prove, since it requires a prosecutor to establish your internal thoughts from a specific moment in the past. They are not mind-readers, of course, but they are allowed to infer your intention from various kinds of evidence. It’s important that you work with defense attorneys who are capable of challenging and defeating misleading evidence.
Keep all of the following in mind:
- Any part of the vehicle is sufficient for conviction.
- Putting any part of your body inside the vehicle is sufficient for conviction.
- Putting any object connected to your body inside the vehicle is also sufficient (e.g., flashlights, phones, cameras, magnets, wire hangers, crowbars, locksmith tools, etc.).
- Entering a truck bed (or even putting your hand or some instrument inside it) could subject you to prosecution for burglary.
- You can be convicted even if you never take anything or do anything else wrong. Merely entering the vehicle without permission is, by itself, a crime (provided that you have criminal intent at the time).
- Taking a vehicle accessory that is entirely on the exterior of the vehicle (tires, for examples) is not a burglary, though it may be prosecuted under different theft laws.
- Even if the car door is opened or unlocked, unauthorized entry with criminal intent still constitutes the crime of burglary.
Joyriding, Carjacking, and Grand Theft: Stealing a Car in Texas
Texas doesn’t have a specific grand theft larceny statute. It goes without saying, though, that stealing someone else’s vehicle is a serious crime.
Police can apply any number of criminal theft charges to joyriding or carjacking. Allegations might range from larceny to vehicle burglary to aggravated robbery, depending on the circumstances.
Car Hopping: A Dangerous Texas Teen Hobby
We’ve seen a number of stories where Texas teens are engaged in a new recreational activity called car hopping. Typically, car hopping involves a group of young people who move through parking lots and quickly test car doors to find ones that are unlocked. The teens might even have contests to see who can swipe the most from inside.
In the minds of many teens, this is a relatively harmless prank. They assume that people foolish enough to leave their doors unlocked must not be too concerned about what’s inside, and these teens typically focus on very small items or petty cash anyway. It all seems very mild. But on the contrary, Texas police are prepared to prosecute car hopping as vehicle burglary, and accompanying theft charges might also apply.
If you or your child has been charged with burglary in a car hopping-type situation, it is in your best interest to take immediate legal action. The state and federal burglary defense lawyers in our firm can help.
Federal Vehicle Burglary
Unlawful entry of someone else’s vehicle is typically a state crime. If the vehicle is owned or operated by the federal government, though, or if the burglary happens on federally protected property (or involves a federal employee or institution), the offense can be prosecuted as a federal vehicle burglary instead.
Note that this can apply even to vehicles used by federally protected services, including U.S. mail trucks, National Parks vehicles, some police vehicles, certain financial services vehicles, and more.
Theft of a Federal Vehicle
Likewise, any act of carjacking, joyriding, or otherwise stealing a federal vehicle can trigger serious federal larceny charges, including federal burglary. These cases are extremely serious, and the potential penalties are enormous. Additionally, different procedural rules govern, and longer statutes of limitations may apply.
If you are facing federal theft or burglary charges, please contact the experienced federal burglary defense lawyers at Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP right away.
Don’t delay. Timing can make a considerable difference in these cases. Please call our office at 1-888-356-4634 or contact us online and request a free consultation with our state and federal burglary defense lawyers right away.