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By Benson Varghese

Published on: November 16th, 2013 at 10:20 AM
Last Updated: June 18th, 2020 at 2:42 PM

Breaking into a vending machine to get candy or a soda may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a crime in Texas.  Under Texas law, a person can be charged with “burglary of a coin-operated machine” if without consent of the owner, he or she breaks or enters into any coin-operated machine, coin collection machine, or other coin-operated or coin collection receptacle used for the purpose of providing lawful amusement, sales of goods, services, or other valuable things, or telecommunications with intent to obtain property or services.

What are some examples of coin-operated machines?

A coin-operated machine can include vending machines for food or drink, as well as other coin-operated devices such as washing machines at laundromats and arcade games. Coin-operated machines operate either on coins or paper currency and provide goods, services or amusement.

What constitutes “entry”?

Burglary of a coin-operated machine does not necessarily have to include breaking and entering. Texas law specifically recognizes that any entry into a coin-operated machine can constitute a burglary. This means that you do not have to cause damage while attempting to get inside the machine nor do you have to actually steal anything.  Our attorneys understand this distinction and use it to negotiate the best outcome in your case.

  • For Example: You can commit burglary of a coin-operated machine if you take hammer and break the glass of a vending machine while attempting to obtain its contents.
  • For Example: You can also commit this crime if you take a coat hanger and try to get the contents of the vending machine without actually causing damage to it.

It is important to understand that it is not a crime to break or enter into a coin-operated machine if you have the consent of the owner. For it to be a crime, Texas law specifically requires that there is NO consent by the owner of the machine. The law also requires that there also be intent to obtain goods or services.

  • For Example: Bob has intent to break into the coin-operated machine to obtain M&M’s. While Bob is trying to fish out some M&M’s with a coat hanger, the alarm goes off and Bob runs away. Bob will still be found to have acted with the required intent to commit this crime, even though he failed to obtain goods or services.

What is the punishment in Fort Worth for breaking into a vending machine?

Breaking into a coin-operated machine is a Class A Misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor in Texas. There are several other types of penalties involved for this type of crime that can be either combined or ordered separately, including fines, jail time, probation and restitution.

  • Fines: A Class A Misdemeanor offense in Texas has a potential fine of up to $4,000.
  • Jail: Convictions for a misdemeanor offense can result in up to a year in a county jail.
    • For Example: A judge or jury may sentence someone convicted of a burglary of coin-operated machine to a $1,000 fine, while someone else also convicted of the same crime to 30 days in jail.
  • Restitution: This type of punishment is common when someone commits a crime that results in property damage or the loss of income. If ordered restitution, a defendant must pay a specific amount of money in an effort to compensate the owner for the loss of property or the expenses associated with the damage. Restitution must be paid in addition to any fines or jail time.
  • Probation: Probation sentences usually last at least 12 months, but there is a possibility for an even longer probation sentence. The court will require a person on probation to comply with a wide range of conditions such as maintaining employment, not committing more crimes, reporting to a probation officer, paying all fines and restitution and performing community service. Violation of probation can result in additional penalties, such as more fines or jail time.

Defending Against Charges for Burglary of a Coin-Operated Machine in Fort Worth

For a burglary of a coin operate machine there are several possible defenses, such as negating one or more elements of burglary (lacking intent to commit theft) or having consent of the owner of the machine.  If you have been arrested or charged with burglary of a coin-operated machine in Fort Worth, call our defense attorneys for assistance in understanding your charge and defending your case.