In Virginia, burglary can be charged as a common law or statutory burglary crime. These offenses are always a felony, which comes with much more severe punishments than a misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you could be sentenced to a lengthy prison sentence and a large fine and could face the long-term consequences of having a permanent criminal record.
What Is Common Law Burglary?
Under Virginia Code §18.2-89, very specific requirements must be met for a person to be charged with common law burglary. They include:
- There must have been an unlawful breaking and entering.
- The breaking and entering must have been into a dwelling place of another.
- The breaking and entering must have occurred during the nighttime, which is defined as 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise.
- The accused must have intended to commit a felony or a larceny, i.e., a theft.
A person would be charged with a Class 3 felony unless they were armed with a deadly weapon. If they possessed a deadly weapon, the charges would be elevated to a Class 2 felony. If convicted, they could face these punishments:
- Class 3 felony: 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
- Class 2 felony: 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
Three Types of Statutory Burglary Crimes
Statutory burglary offenses were created to make burglary a crime in situations that do not fall within the strict common law definition of this crime. There are three types of statutory burglary offenses in Virginia.
Breaking and Entering With Intent to Commit Murder, Rape, Robbery, or Arson
Under Virginia Code §18.2-90, breaking and entering with the intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson is a Class 3 felony unless a deadly weapon is used, in which case it would be a Class 2 felony. The punishments would be the same as for common law burglary.
Breaking and Entering With Intent to Commit Larceny, Assault and Battery, or Another Felony
Virginia Code §18.2-91 makes it a burglary offense to break and enter into a dwelling house to commit a larceny, assault and battery, or another felony other than murder, rape, robbery, or arson. The punishment is 1 to 20 years in prison. However, the judge or jury deciding the case has the discretion to sentence the defendant to up to 12 months in jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,500. The crime would be elevated to a Class 2 felony if a deadly weapon was used while committing the crime.
Breaking and Entering With Intent to Commit a Misdemeanor
It is a Class 6 felony to break and enter into a dwelling house that is occupied during the day or night with the intent to commit a misdemeanor other than assault and battery or trespass under Virginia Code §18.2-92. If convicted, an individual could be sentenced to one to five years in prison or a jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine not to exceed $2,500. Like other burglary offenses, the crime becomes a Class 2 felony if a deadly weapon is used.
Were you charged with a burglary crime in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Our knowledgeable and dedicated criminal defense lawyers can mount a strong defense strategy for you to fight the charges you face. To learn more about how we can defend you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.