Virginia Burglary Law
Virginia Burglary Attorneys
Burglary, which is commonly referred to as breaking and entering, involves unlawfully entering a building with the intention of committing an illegal act. While the most common intent is theft, burglary can also involve more serious offenses such as murder, rape, or arson, which carry additional severe penalties.
In Virginia, there are two types of burglary recognized under Code 18.2: common law burglary and statutory burglary. Common law burglary refers to the illegal entry into another person’s house during nighttime, which is defined as 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise. While the original definition of common law burglary required the offense to occur at night, it is not a requirement in all states today. To secure a conviction for common law burglary, it must be proven that the defendant unlawfully broke into a building that belongs to another person, that the break-in occurred at night, and that the purpose of the break-in was to commit a felony. If the intruder used a deadly weapon during the break-in, it becomes an armed burglary. The penalties for common law burglary, a Class 3 felony in Virginia, include imprisonment of 5-20 years and/or a fine of $100,000. Armed common law burglary is classified as a Class 2 felony with a prison sentence ranging from 20 years to life and/or a fine of $100,000.
In Virginia, statutory burglary encompasses three types, all using the term “breaking and entering.” Breaking refers to gaining entry through the use of any amount of force. Actual breaking involves using force to enter, while constructive breaking refers to gaining entry through trickery, threats, or other deceptive means. Entering means that any part of the intruder’s body, even just a hand, has unlawfully entered the building.
The three types of statutory burglary in Virginia are as follows:
Breaking and Entering with Intent to Commit Murder, Rape, Robbery, or Arson (Code 18.2-90). The punishment for conviction includes imprisonment of 5-20 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
Breaking and Entering with Intent to Commit Larceny, Assault and Battery, or Felony Other Than Murder, Rape, Robbery, or Arson (Code 18.2-91). The punishment for conviction is imprisonment ranging from 1-20 years or a jail sentence of up to 12 months, and/or a fine up to $2,500.
Breaking and Entering a Dwelling House with Intent to Commit a Misdemeanor Other Than Trespass or Assault and Battery (Code 18.2.92). The punishment for conviction includes imprisonment ranging from 1-5 years, a jail sentence of up to 12 months, and/or a fine up to $2,500.
In the past, burglary cases specifically referred to the breaking and entering of a dwelling where people usually sleep, even if unoccupied at the time of the offense. Smaller buildings on the property were also covered by the law. However, most states now have broader definitions that include any enclosed structure, even if it is not normally used for living or sleeping purposes.
Virginia law also addresses other forms of burglary. For instance, entering a bank with a deadly weapon with the intention to steal money, bonds, or notes is considered a Class 2 felony (Code 18.2-93). Breaking into aircraft, railroad cars, or trucks is a Class 3 felony (Code 18.2-147.1). Possessing burglary tools that could be used for illegal entry is a Class 5 felony (Code 18.2-94). Stealing from parking meters or pay telephones is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, which becomes a Class 6 felony upon subsequent convictions.
The Virginia Code also includes the crime of criminal mischief, which involves unlawfully damaging or destroying real or personal property without the intent to steal, such as defacing a statue. The severity of the charge, either a Class 1 misdemeanor or Class 6 felony, depends on the value of the damaged property.
Burglary is a serious offense in Virginia with significant consequences. If you are facing any form of burglary charges, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an experienced Virginia attorney who can navigate the laws pertaining to this charge. Allow the best legal representation to work for you.