Property Crimes

What is property crime in Texas?

In 2016, the State of Texas reported just over 2,759 property crimes per 100,000 inhabitants, which is 6.9 percent higher than the national average. Every state has its own property crime definition. Under the Texas Penal Code, the act of stealing, damaging or destroying another person’s real or intangible property are considered property crime offenses.

You can be charged with criminal mischief if you intentionally or knowingly damage property that belongs to another person. This type of property crime, often called vandalism, also includes tampering, marking, painting, writing, etching on or otherwise defiling property that is not your own. Criminal mischief can be prosecuted as a Class A, B or C misdemeanor, state jail felony or felony of the first, second or third degree, depending on the type of property damage and the resulting pecuniary losses.

If an individual starts a fire, regardless if the blaze continues or causes an explosion with intent to damage or destroy property, they may face arson charges under Texas penal code § 28.02. This law applies to arson cases involving:

  • Vegetation, fences, structures or open-space lands
  • Habitation, vehicles and buildings
  • Knowing the property is within city or town limits
  • Knowing that the property is insured against damage
  • Knowing that the structure is on private property
  • Knowing that the property is subject to a mortgage
  • Reckless actions that endanger the life of a person or the safety of the property of another

Breaking and entering, also referred to as criminal trespass, is another common property crime offense in Texas. This type of offense involves the illegal entry into another person’s property, without the consent of the owner. The statutory definition of criminal trespass includes entering property without legal permission, be it: residential land, a building, an RV park, agricultural land, an aircraft or other kind of vehicle.

In many B&E cases, suspects will pick locks or break windows to gain entry to the structure, but they can also employ fraud or deception (posing as an authority figure or security guard) to gain access to a private property. Breaking and entering charges can be filed even in situations where no property was damaged or theft crimes committed. The legal repercussions of a criminal trespass conviction in Texas can be exceedingly harsh, punishable by one year in jail and up to $4000 in fines.

Legal defenses in property crime cases

Most types of property crimes are committed with intent or knowledge of the alleged offense. It is up to the prosecutor to prove that the suspect recklessly, intentionally or knowingly committed the offense, which can be challenging to prove without concrete evidence. There are various arguments that may be used to defend a property crime charge, and a well-qualified attorney will know the most effective strategy to achieve the best results.

Potential defenses may include:

  • Justification – If the act is justifiable because it was committed to prevent public or private harm.
  • Duress – If the alleged offender was threatened with physical harm or coerced to commit the offense.
  • Renunciation – If the alleged offender either made significant efforts to stop the property crime for happening or stopped participating in the act altogether.
  • Reasonable Belief – If the alleged suspect had reasonable belief that they had permission from the owner to enter or use the property.

How A Mobile Bail Bonds can help you

A Mobile Bail Bonds leverages hard-won experience with the criminal justice system in Texas. If you have been arrested for a property crime, or are facing a Harris County arrest warrant for a property crime, don’t underestimate the value of a reputable criminal defense lawyer. A Mobile Bail Bonds has a trusted reputation in the Houston, Harris County and Surrounding Areas for personalized, aggressive advocacy. For an honest, no-obligation case review, we invite you to reach out today for private consultation.

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