Fairfax Burglary Lawyer
A burglary charge can have a devastating effect on your reputation, your life, and your future. Burglary cases must be handled with care and caution by a knowledgeable, and highly skilled Fairfax burglary lawyer. If you are facing charges for violation of Virginia burglary laws, contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa today to obtain a free consultation with a Fairfax burglary attorney.
Burglary Charges in Virginia
In Virginia, burglary charges can be brought under two separate statutes. Before discussing these statutes in further detail, it is perhaps most prudent for me to provide the actual definition of burglary.
Burglary is the unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside. Most people think that burglary is associated with theft crimes, but it is important to understand that someone can be charged with burglary even when they had no intention of stealing anything.
Now that a general definition of burglary has been provided, we can now discuss the differences between common law and statutory burglary – the two different types of burglary charges under Virginia law.
Common Law Burglary (Virginia Code § 18.2-89)
Virginia’s common law burglary statute follows the antiquated rule that a burglary can only be committed at night. In order to convict a person of common law burglary charges, the Commonwealth must show that the defendant (1) broke and entered into the victim’s home; (2) at night; (3) with the intent to steal property or commit a felony once inside. See Virginia Code § 18.2-89.
Statutory Burglary (Virginia Code §§ 18.2-90 and 18.2-91)
A person will face statutory burglary charges under Virginia Code §§ 18.2-90 and 18.2-91 if they:
- Unlawfully enter someone’s home or structure at night;
- Break and enter into a home or structure during the day; or
- Unlawfully enter the home or structure and hide once inside.
In order to be convicted of statutory burglary charges, the accused must have had the intent to commit a felony, larceny, or an assault and battery.
Fairfax Burglary Lawyer Explains the Elements of Burglary
In this section, I provide a plain English explanation of the most commonly misunderstood elements of burglary.
Unlawful entry does not need to involve any breaking or entering. In other words, the unlawful entry does not have to be forced. As a Fairfax burglary lawyer, I know of Virginians who have been convicted of burglary for walking through the door of an unlocked home with the intent to commit a crime once inside. The entry may appear legal because they did not pick any locks or break down a door, but it is the intent at the time of entry which turns their stealing a TV once inside into a burglary. If a person enters without permission, it would merely be a trespass so long as the defendant did not intend to commit a crime once inside. Depending on the circumstances, a Fairfax trespassing lawyer may be able to convince a prosecutor to drop the burglary charges to a charge of trespassing.
Intent at the Time of Entry
In order to convict a party for burglary, the Commonwealth must not only prove that the defendant entered a structure and then committed a larceny or felony while inside the property, but they must also prove that the defendant had the intent to commit a felony or larceny once inside. In my experience as a Fairfax burglary lawyer, I have found that most people who commit larcenies or crimes inside a home or business enter with the intent of committing a larceny. However, a good Fairfax burglary lawyer can make it quite difficult for a prosecutor to prove that the defendant had such intent.
Absent evidence of premeditated intent, a Fairfax burglary lawyer may be able to successfully argue that the defendant formed the intent to commit a larceny only after they entered the home or structure. Admissions, possession of burglary tools, and statements of co-conspirators are generally the types of evidence relied upon to prove intent/premeditation.
Defenses to Burglary Charges
There are a number of possible defenses that your Fairfax burglary lawyer can assert on your behalf. Below I provide a brief explanation of some of the most common defenses to burglary charges. It is important to remember that the only sure-fire way to know whether or not some of these defenses may apply in your case is to speak with a Fairfax burglary lawyer.
Inaccurate eyewitness testimony is one of the leading causes of innocent people being wrongfully convicted of crimes. While most people believe in their ability to remember and identify criminal suspects, studies consistently demonstrate that eyewitnesses can, and often do, make mistakes. Mistaken identity is particularly likely to occur when a perpetrator was wearing glasses or a hat. Moreover, lineups and other identifications could be improperly suggestive if not conducted correctly. However, it takes a Fairfax burglary lawyer with the proper legal training to point out when a lineup has violated a person’s constitutional rights.
False accusations happen for a number of reasons: Jealousy, anger, custody battles, and even monetary gain. By raising doubt about an accuser or witness’ ability to perceive and remember, or impeaching their character by demonstrating that they have a character for untruthfulness, your Fairfax burglary lawyer can help prove that the allegations against you are false.
Burglary cases commonly involve fingerprint analysis. Fingerprints lifted from the point of entry go a long way towards proving the defendant’s guilt. But as most Fairfax burglary attorneys can tell you, unlike what we see on television and in the movies, fingerprint analysis is not always completely accurate. These inaccuracies seem to be particularly prevalent when the analysis is of a single or partial fingerprint. Additionally, many of the people who lift and analyze these prints have very little training and experience and mistakes can and do happen. That is why a good Fairfax burglary lawyer will consider hiring a defense expert in fingerprints who will conduct an independent analysis.
Potential Punishments for Burglary Charges
The punishments for burglary vary greatly depending on the circumstances. You can find more information about the full range of potential punishments for burglary at section which covers Virginia’s Burglary Laws below.
With that said, burglary is generally charged as a Class 3 felony which carries a penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. However, if the defendant was armed with a weapon at the time of the burglary, then it is a Class 2 felony which carries a sentence of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Given the harsh penalties associated with burglary convictions, it is imperative that you speak to a Fairfax burglary lawyer.
Contact a Fairfax Burglary Lawyer Today
If you are currently facing charges for burglary, the consequences could negatively impact your life forever. Burglary is an aggressively prosecuted crime, and it is important to have a knowledgeable, dedicated, and aggressive Fairfax burglary lawyer on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa today for a Free Consultation with a Fairfax burglary lawyer. 571-354-6164
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Randall Sousa, Esq.
Fairfax Burglary Lawyer
Telephone: 571-354-6164 | Mobile: 571-328-6825
Toll Free: 800-875-6022
2920 District Ave. Suite 524
Fairfax, VA | 22031
By: Randall Sousa
Virginia Burglary Laws
Virginia burglary laws are somewhat complex and convoluted. Burglary is the unlawful entry into a structure with the intent to commit a crime once inside. Most people think that burglary is associated with theft crimes, but it is important to understand that someone can be charged with burglary even when they had no intention of stealing anything. Likewise, Virginia burglary laws, as applied to common law burglary, follow the antiquated rule that a burglary can only be committed at night. Virginia burglary laws as applied to statutory burglary, however, provide that a burglary can be committed during the day or night.
In order to be convicted for a violation of Virginia burglary laws, the Commonwealth must show that the defendant had the intent to commit a crime at the time of entry and that this intent did not emerge once the defendant was already inside the home or structure. The public often confuses burglary and robbery, but robbery is taking another person’s property by force, whereas burglary involves unlawful entry into a structure or dwelling with the intention of committing a crime inside.
If you have been arrested, charged, or under investigation for burglary, contact an aggressive, affordable, and highly skilled Fairfax burglary lawyer today for a free consultation.
Common Law Burglary (Virginia Code § 18.2-89)
Although common law burglary is codified by statute, a person can only be charged under Virginia Code § 18.2-89 if they commit the burglary at night. In order to be convicted, the Commonwealth must show that a defendant (1) breaks and enters a person’s home; (2) at night; (3) with an intent to commit a larceny or felony.
Common Law Burglary Penalties
- Common law burglary is a Class 3 felony which carries a penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
- If the defendant was armed with a weapon at the time of the burglary, then it is a Class 2 felony which carries a penalty of 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Statutory Burglary (Virginia Code §§ 18.2-90, 18.2-91)
A person can be charged with statutory burglary under the following three circumstances:
- If they unlawfully enter home/structure at night;
- If they break and enter the home/structure during the day; or
- If they unlawfully enter the home/structure and conceal themselves in the home/structure
Additionally, at the time of entering the home, they must have the intent to commit a felony, larceny (steal something), or an assault and battery.
Statutory Burglary Penalties
- If the defendant’s intent was merely to steal something, commit an assault and battery, or any other non-violent felony, then they will be subject to sentence of one to 20 years in prison or, by the jury/court’s discretion, they may be subject to a lesser penalty of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- If the defendant’s intent was to commit arson, rape, robbery, or murder, then the defendant will be charged with a Class 3 felony which carries a sentence of 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
- Finally, if armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the burglary, the defendant will be subject to a prison sentence of 20 years to life and a fine of up to $100,000.
Possession of Burglary Tools (Virginia Code § 18.2-94)
Pursuant to Virginia burglary laws, If a person possesses tools with the intent to commit a burglary, larceny, or robbery, then they will be charged with possessing burglarious tools. Burglarious tools could be gloves, screwdrivers, lock picks, or crowbars. The problem with this law is that it is often very difficult to prove because many people carry these tools around for a variety of legitimate reasons.
Possession of burglary tools is a Class 5 felony which carries a sentence of one to 10 years in prison. At the discretion of the jury or judge, however, the sentence could be less than 12 months and a fine of no more than $2,500.
Breaking & Entering with the Intent to Commit a Misdemeanor (Va. Code § 18.2-92)
A good Fairfax burglary lawyer knows about the unique section in Virginia criminal statutes which addresses burglary with the intent to commit a misdemeanor. If a person breaks and enters into a home or structure; while someone is inside the home or structure; with the intent to commit a misdemeanor apart from trespassing or assault and battery, then this person will be charged with a Class 6 felony so long as they were not armed with a deadly weapon. If they are convicted of a Class 6 felony, they face a sentence of one to five years in prison or, in the discretion of the judge or jury, a sentence of up to 12 months and a fine not to exceed $2,500.
If they are armed with a deadly weapon, the crime becomes a Class 2 felony and they face a penalty of 20 years to life in prison and a fine not to exceed $100,000. Virginia Code § 18.2-10(b).
Entering Bank Armed with Intent to Commit Larceny (Virginia Code § 18.2-93)
Virginia burglary laws also have a section dedicated to theft from a bank. If an individual enters a bank with a weapon with the intent to commit a larceny, then they will be charged with a Class 2 felony. If convicted, they face 20 years to life in prison and a fine not to exceed $100,000.
If you are currently facing charges for violating any Virginia burglary laws, the consequences could negatively impact your life forever. Burglary is an aggressively prosecuted crime, and it is important to have a knowledgeable, dedicated, and aggressive attorney on your side. Contact the Law Offices of Randall Sousa now for a Free Consultation with an aggressive, affordable, and highly skilled Fairfax burglary lawyer. 571-354-6164
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The Law Offices of Randall Sousa provides clients throughout Virginia with affordable, professional, and aggressive criminal defense legal services. If you have been arrested, charged with a crime, or are under investigation, call us now for a Free Consultation.
Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Randall Sousa possesses a deep commitment and passion for criminal defense, and he is relentless when it comes to fighting for his clients in each and every case.
Law Offices of Randall Sousa 2920 District Avenue Suite 524 Fairfax, VA 22031 Phone: 571-354-6164