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Illegally entering someone else’s property with the intention of committing theft, rape, kidnapping, or any other criminal activities is a highly grave offense in Virginia. If you unlawfully intrude into a residence, business, or any other structure (including mobile homes or vacation RVs) with the intent to commit a crime, you are likely to be charged with burglary if apprehended. 

Facing burglary charges demands urgent intervention from an experienced Virginia burglary lawyer, who can assist in safeguarding you from severe consequences.

While some may interpret “breaking and entering” as merely involving the physical act of breaking a window or forcing open a door, it’s important to recognize that any form of physical intrusion into a residence, business, storage unit, or other secure structures, even if it involves pushing open an unlocked door, can result in breaking and entering charges. A breaking and entering offense is often considered the initial stage of burglary and can lead to the detention of a suspect while the property owner assesses their belongings. A burglary charge is likely to be imposed if items are found missing.

Many convictions for burglary fall under Class 3 felonies, Entailing a possible sentence of as much as 20 years of imprisonment and a monetary penalty of up to $100,000. However, if the burglary involves carrying a deadly weapon, whether concealed or unconcealed, the perpetrator may face a more severe Class 2 felony. This elevated offense is punishable by a sentence spanning from two decades to a lifetime behind bars, accompanied by a monetary penalty of up to $100,000.

The distinction between robbery and burglary lies in the absence of physical force against a person in the latter. Typically, during a burglary, the perpetrator and the victim seldom have direct contact. Additionally, a burglary charge may not necessarily entail the actual taking of property. Offenses such as breaking and entering with the intent to commit murder, rape, or arson fall under the more severe category of “Statutory Burglary.” nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

virginia burglary lawyer

Burglary Offenses in Virginia

The prosecution and sentencing of statutory burglary in Virginia hinge on the specific circumstances surrounding the act and the suspect’s intended crime(s). This offense can occur in a residence or any inhabited structure. In accordance with the Virginia Criminal Code, charges for statutory burglary may be applied if a suspect has the intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping, arson, or assault and battery and:

  1. Illegally enters a structure, whether during the day or night.
  2. Enters a home or an adjoining structure and conceals themselves.
  3. Enters any structure used as a residence, with or without breaking, and conceals themselves.

If found guilty, the accused may face a Class 3 felony, carrying a sentence of five to 20 years in prison and a possible monetary penalty reaching $100,000. Alternatively, a Class 2 felony could be imposed, resulting in a prison term of 20 years to life, along with a fine of up to $100,000. The offense’s classification depends on the case’s particulars and the defendant’s criminal history. Notably, any statutory burglary committed while armed with a deadly weapon automatically qualifies as a Class 2 felony.

Conversely, unlawfully entering premises without being armed, with the intention to commit a non-violent misdemeanor, constitutes a Class 6 felony. This offense carries a punishment of one to five years or a discretionary jail term of up to 12 months, along with the possibility of a fine not exceeding $2,500. However, if the perpetrator is armed, the charges escalate to a Class 2 felony, as outlined in Section 18.2-92.

Illegally entering a bank with the intention of theft and being armed with a deadly weapon constitutes the criminal act of entering with intent to commit larceny. In the event of a conviction, this offense is categorized as a Class 2 felony, resulting in a sentencing range of 20 years to life imprisonment, accompanied by a possible fine of up to $100,000. It’s important to note that actual bank robbery constitutes a distinct offense.

Additionally, being apprehended with burglary tools in Northern Virginia can lead to a Class 5 felony charge. A conviction results in a prison sentence ranging from one to 10 years (or, at the court’s discretion, 12 months and/or levy a fine of up to $2,500.

Common Law Burglary in Virginia and its Legal Implications

Common Law Burglary in Virginia stands as a distinct offense apart from statutory burglary. To establish common law burglary, the prosecution must prove that an individual unlawfully entered someone else’s residence during the nighttime (defined as the time frame extending from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes prior to sunrise) with the intention of committing larceny or a felony. In Virginia, common law burglary is categorized as a Class 3 felony, carrying a potential prison sentence ranging from five to twenty years and a fine of up to $100,000, as outlined in Section 18.2-89.

If a person commits common law burglary while possessing a deadly weapon, it escalates to the level of armed burglary, classified as a Class 2 felony. Conviction for armed burglary may result in a prison term of 20 years to life, a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

Experienced Defense Strategies for Burglary Cases in Virginia

Your Northern Virginia burglary defense lawyer can employ various defenses based on the specific details of your case. One such defense is the “true owner” defense or the “erroneous takings rule,” allowing you to demonstrate your rightful claim to the taken property or your efforts to retrieve what rightfully belongs to you. If your attorney can establish that you were the rightful owner seeking to reclaim property wrongfully deprived from you, this could serve as a viable defense. While you may still face potential charges of simple breaking and entering, this defense scenario may offer your lawyer an opportunity to negotiate a significant reduction in your pending charges, depending on the unique circumstances of your case.

Irrespective of your situation, having a skilled criminal defense lawyer by your side during the rigorous criminal proceedings can provide immense comfort and support at a time when your freedom and rights are under scrutiny.


Marquis Law Group combines our deep knowledge of the law with a passion for helping our neighbors.

Need Guidance?

While this website provides general information, it does not constitute legal advice. The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact a lawyer. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call 703-777-6161 or complete our intake form.


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