Robbery or Burglary: What’s the Difference?

Ordinary citizens often confuse the words robbery and burglary when describing a personal experience they have had as a victim of a crime. For example a person may say “My house got robbed” when describing a residential break in. It’s a common mistake but under Texas law they are very different crimes.

I once heard a judge describe the difference perfectly during jury selection. He said, “People get robbed. Houses get burglarized.” Robbery is the theft of property from a person by force. If the victim is threatened with a gun, knife, or other deadly weapon then the crime becomes Aggravated Robbery.

Burglary is when a person enters a house or building without the owners consent to commit theft, assault or a felony. The house or building doesn’t have to actually be broken into to qualify as burglary. Entering without the owner’s consent to commit a crime is the key.

Both crimes are very serious felonies under Texas law. If you are ever accused or investigated for either of these criminal offenses consult with an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. Do so before you consent to an interview with the police.

Engaging in Organized Crime Parole Consequences

The Texas Engaging In Organized Criminal Activity statute, better known as Engaging In Organized Crime, is a powerful tool used by law enforcement and prosecutors. Charging criminal activity under this statute enhances the punishment range and also allows prosecutors greater latitude in presenting extraneous offenses to prove the criminal case.

There is another powerful aspect to the statute that isn’t as well publicized but can have dire consequences to the defendant who is in danger of being sentenced to a prison term. Release from prison from a conviction for Organized Criminal Activity requires the defendant to serve half the prison sentence before they can become eligible for parole.

This type of parole requirement typically occurs in aggravated offenses such as Aggravated Robbery, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Murder. Other felony prison sentences for crimes such as theft or burglary don’t require a defendant to serve half the prison sentence before parole eligibility and a defendant can expect to get released long before half their time is served. However, if the same defendant were convicted of Engaging in Organized Crime, and the underlying offense was burglary or theft, the defendant would be required to serve half the time prison sentence before parole eligibility.

The danger of serving aggravated time for conviction under any scenario of the Engaging in Organized Crime Statute should be carefully weighed by the criminal defense attorney when they are in engaged in plea negotiations with the prosecution.

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