All About Burglary Crimes, Penalties, and Defenses

Burglary Word CloudThe crimes of burglary and robbery are often confused. However, in Virginia, burglary and robbery are distinct crimes with different sentences. A robbery occurs when property is taken from someone else with the use or threat of force, but burglary is different. Burglary involves entering an enclosed structure such as a home, bank, or another structure with the intent to commit a crime.

Statutory Burglary

According to Virginia law, there are various types of burglary, including:

Entering a Dwelling With the Intent to Commit Murder, Rape, Robbery, or Arson

Virginia Code § 18.2-90 makes it a crime to enter a dwelling house or place of human habitation during the nighttime, break and enter during the day or night, or enter and conceal oneself during the day or night with the intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson.

A dwelling house or place of human habitation includes any building where humans live or any other structure such as a ship, vessel, railroad car, car, truck, or trailer where humans live.

A violation of this law is a Class 3 felony, punishable by 50 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. This crime may be a Class 2 felony, punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 if the person was armed with a deadly weapon when they entered the building or dwelling structure.

Entering a Dwelling With the Intent to Commit Larceny, Assault and Battery, or Another Felony

If a person enters a dwelling house or place of human habitation in a way that violates Virginia Code § 18.2-90, but with the intent to commit larceny, assault and battery, or a felony other than murder, rape, robbery, or arson, then the person may be convicted of burglary pursuant to Virginia Code § 18.2-91.

The potential penalty for violating this law includes up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and prison time. If, however, a person is convicted of violating this law and had a deadly weapon when the crime was committed, the person may be convicted of a Class 2 felony that is punishable by 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Entering a Dwelling With the Intent to Commit a Misdemeanor

If a person breaks into and enters a dwelling while the dwelling is occupied and has the intent to commit a misdemeanor other than assault and battery or trespass, then the person has violated Virginia Code § 18.2-92.

The potential consequence of violating this Virginia law section includes up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both a fine and prison time.

As with other types of Virginia burglary crimes, the potential charges increase to a Class 2 felony if the person was armed with a deadly weapon when entering the dwelling. In these cases, the possible penalty is 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Entering a Bank Armed and With the Intent to Commit Larceny

It is a Class 2 felony to enter a banking house with intent to commit larceny of money, bonds, notes, or other evidence of debt, according to Virginia Code §18.2-93. Accordingly, the potential sentence for violating this statute is 20 years to life imprisonment and a fine not exceeding $100,000.

Common Law Burglary

Common law burglary occurs if you illegally enter someone’s home during the night with the intent to commit a larceny or a felony. “The night” is defined as the time beginning 30 minutes before sunset and ending 30 minutes before sunrise.

Common law burglary is a Class 3 felony with a potential sentence of 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. However, if you have a deadly weapon on you at the time of the burglary, then you may be charged with a Class 2 felony and your potential sentence could be two years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Burglary Defenses

Our experienced Virginia criminal defense lawyers will thoroughly evaluate the prosecutor’s charges against you and consider all possible defenses in your burglary case. For example, our theft and trespassing defense attorneys may consider whether:

  • You had a legal right to be in the dwelling, building, or space
     
  • You owned the property that you were trying to take back
     
  • The property was not actually a dwelling (if it is relevant to the charges against you)
     
  • You intended to commit a crime or lacked intent to commit a crime
     
  • You were intoxicated at the time of the alleged crime
     
  • There was a mistake of fact or mistake in identity that resulted in charges being brought against you

We will also consider whether your legal rights were violated during a search, interrogation, arrest, or detainment after an arrest and whether the prosecution has enough evidence to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Contact Greenspun Shapiro today to learn more about your rights if you’ve been charged with a burglary crime in Virginia.