masked burglar with crowbar breaking and entering into a victim's home. motion blur selective focus

Illegally entering a house, business, or another structure with the intent to commit a crime is considered the crime of burglary in Virginia. Burglary is a much more severe crime than theft because it involves trespassing into someone else’s property to commit a crime, such as kidnapping, theft, or rape.

If you’ve been charged with burglary, you could be facing significant jail time, fines, a permanent criminal record, and other penalties. You’ll benefit from the help of the skilled criminal defense attorney at Surovell, Isaacs & Levy. We have a proven track record of successfully defending clients against a wide range of felony-level criminal charges, including burglary. 

Understanding Virginia’s Burglary Laws 

Virginia has two categories of burglary crimes: burglary and statutory burglary. Both are felony charges that carry harsh penalties. The crime of burglary is covered in Title 18.2, Chapter 5, Section 18.2-89 through 18.2-94. Prosecutors must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt to convict a defendant of burglary in Virginia:

  • The defendant engaged in breaking and entering into someone’s home
  • At night
  • With the intent to steal something or commit a larceny or a felony crime

There are three ways a person can commit statutory burglary in Virginia. The first type occurs when a person breaks and enters a dwelling with the intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson and is considered a Class 2 or 3 felony, depending on whether the defendant was carrying a deadly weapon. 

Breaking and entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit assault and battery, arson, or larceny is also considered statutory burglary. Finally, breaking and entering into a dwelling with the intent to commit a misdemeanor other than assault or battery and trespass is also considered statutory burglary. 

The Difference Between Robbery and Burglary in Virginia

A robbery charge is different from a burglary charge. In a burglary charge, prosecutors don’t need to prove the defendant used physical force against another person. Burglary also doesn’t always have to be involved in the theft of property. The crime of robbery always involves theft and the threat or use of violence. However, both robbery and burglary are serious felony-level crimes in Virginia.

The Penalties of Burglary Charges 

The penalties for burglary are significant and usually include jail time. When prosecutors charge a burglary as a Class 3 felony, convicted defendants face between 5 and 20 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. When the defendant is accused of breaking and entering with a deadly weapon when the burglary occurs, they can face a Class 2 felony charge that carries a jail sentence of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of $100,000. 

Possession of Burglary Tools

Possessing burglary tools is a Class 5 felony. It involves possession of any object that can be used to help steal or break into someone else’s property, plus intent to commit one of the felonies named in the statutes. Prosecutors must prove a person had tools, implements, or outfits with the intent to commit larceny, robbery, or burglary. 

Defenses to Burglary Charges

Every burglary case is unique, and your best legal defense should be based on carefully considering the facts of the case. For example, suppose you were trying to get property back that belonged to you. In that case, you may be able to defend yourself under the “erroneous takings rule” or the “true owner” defense. With the help of your attorney, you may be able to successfully use this defense, although doing so could lead to larceny charges. 

Your attorney may be able to poke holes in the prosecution’s cases by proving they don’t have enough evidence to prove every element of burglary. For example, if the prosecution cannot prove you entered the property with the intent to commit a specific type of crime, they can’t prove you committed burglary. Similarly, if you had permission to enter the dwelling, the prosecution couldn’t prove you committed “breaking and entering.”

At Surovell, Isaacs & Levy, our criminal defense attorneys will carefully review your case and explore the best legal defenses available under Virginia law to work to get your case dismissed. Defending against a burglary charge requires experienced attorneys with an in-depth understanding of Virginia law and experience representing clients in Northern Virginia criminal courts. We will work tirelessly to pursue your case’s best possible outcome. 

Why You’ll Benefit from Hiring an Experienced Attorney

If you’ve been charged with burglary, hiring an attorney as soon as possible is an essential step toward protecting your freedom. Prosecutors may try to pressure you into admitting guilt. Remembering your constitutional right to remain silent is crucial. You’ll benefit from using your phone call post-arrest to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney. 

Don’t answer questions until your attorney is present. An attorney can protect you from abuses of your legal rights and help you answer questions in a way that protects your legal defense. Your attorney can also begin negotiating with the prosecutor immediately. 

Your attorney may be able to quickly ask the court to dismiss the charges against you due to a lack of evidence you committed the crime or an unconstitutional search and seizure. The sooner you work with a skilled attorney, the more time your attorney will have to develop the best legal defense strategy.

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Northern Virginia Today

If you’ve been charged with burglary, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. Retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney who can fight for your legal rights is important. The skilled Fairfax criminal defense attorneys at Surovell, Isaacs & Levy are prepared to fight for your legal rights. Contact Surovell, Isaacs & Levy to schedule an initial case evaluation and learn more about how we can provide you with an aggressive criminal defense.