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The elements that comprise the crime of burglary

On Behalf of | Mar 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense

Burglary is a criminal offense involving unlawful entry into a building or other enclosed structure to commit a crime, usually theft. Burglary is considered a serious crime in Texas, and perpetrators can face severe legal consequences.

Unlawful entry

The first element of burglary is an unlawful entry. This means the perpetrator enters a building or structure without the owner’s or occupant’s consent. Unlawful entry can be achieved through various means, such as breaking a window or door, picking a lock or simply walking in through an open door or window.

Breaking and entering

Breaking is a subset of unlawful entry and involves using force to access a building. Breaking can include breaking a lock or window, prying open a door or using a crowbar or a screwdriver to gain access.

Intent to commit a crime

The third element of burglary is the prospective perpetrator’s intent to commit a crime. This means that the perpetrator must have entered the building or structure intending to commit a crime. In criminal defense, intent can be proven through various means, such as the presence of tools commonly used for theft or evidence pointing to previous attempts at theft.


Occupancy means that the building or structure is lived in or used for work by an owner or occupant at the time of unlawful entry. If the building is not occupied, the crime may be classified as trespassing or vandalism instead of burglary.

Criminal act

The final element of burglary is the commission of a criminal act. The perpetrator must have committed the crime they intended to commit when they entered the building, namely, stealing property, vandalism or assault.

Burglary is a serious offense

Burglars can face severe legal consequences, including fines and imprisonment. Burglary can also involve dangerous acts such as battery or murder if a confrontation ensues, making the act unpredictable and potentially fatal.