Man meeting with his criminal defense lawyer

Is a Garage a Habitation for Purposes of Burglary?

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

When you break into a habitation without permission from the owner and commit theft or attempt to commit theft, it is called burglary. Burglary is considered a second-degree felony in the state of Texas. 

What is a ‘Habitation?’

Under state law, a habitation is defined as “a structure or vehicle that is adapted for the overnight accommodation of persons.” This includes all separately secured or occupied sections of the structure or vehicle as well as those structures that are connected or “appurtenant to” them. This begs the question of whether or not a garage counts as a habitation in the event that someone breaks in and steals from it. In such a case can someone be found guilty of burglary?

Texas Burglary Case Law

The courts in Texas have heard quite a few cases pertaining to whether or not someone has committed burglary of a habitation when the defendant has taken property from a garage. The courts have found that garages are, in fact, considered to be a part of the habitation – even when they are not physically attached to the house. 

Defining ‘Appurtenant To’

While the phrase “appurtenant to” is not actually defined within the definition of habitation, the court has later defined its meaning as “belonging to; accessory or incident to; adjunct, appended or annexed to.” The court also found that something is considered ’appurtenant’ to something else when it stands in the relation of an incident to a principal and is necessarily connected with the use and enjoyment of the latter.” Under this definition, the court found that even a detached residential garage is still considered to be a structure appurtenant to the residence, and thus is considered a habitation. 

Therefore, if someone steals a lawnmower from another person’s garage – whether or not the garage is attached – the garage is considered a habitation and the theft a burglary. If the person is found, he or she could be charged with burglary. Under Texas law, this individual, if convicted, can face a maximum fine of up to $10,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. If someone involved commits or tries to commit another felony, it can be punished as a felony of the first degree, and the defendant could face up to life in prison. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with a Crime

When you have been charged with a crime it can be a very scary and overwhelming time. You may have no idea as to how you should proceed or what you should do. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Houston criminal defense attorney who will fight for you to mitigate or eliminate the charges against you. 

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the serious nature of a criminal charge. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.