FAIRFAX LAWYER HELPING CLIENTS FIGHT BURGLARY CHARGES
In Virginia, burglary is defined as the forced entry into a building, vehicle, or any enclosed structure to commit another crime. That intended crime is often theft, but the forced entry may also be for the purposes of any other crime.
Committing an actual theft – or any other crime – is not required to convict someone of burglary. Simply entering into a structure with the intent to commit a crime is sufficient to constitute burglary in Virginia.
HOW ARE BURGLARIES CATEGORIZED BY VIRGINIA LAW?
Burglaries are divided into two main categories under Virginia law – common law burglary and statutory burglary – and several subcategories. Common law burglary is the illegal entry into someone’s home at night (from thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise).
Common law burglary is a Class 3 felony, punishable upon conviction with 5 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $100,000. If the burglar carried a deadly weapon, the charge is armed burglary, a Class 2 felony punishable upon conviction with 20 years to life and a $100,000 fine.
WHAT CONSTITUTES “STATUTORY” BURGLARY?
Statutory burglaries in Virginia are divided into three subcategories:
- Breaking and entering with intent to commit murder, rape, robbery or arson: A conviction is punishable with 5 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $100,000.
- Breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny, assault and battery, or a felony other than murder, rape, robbery, or arson: A conviction is punishable with 1 to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
- Breaking and entering a dwelling with the intent to commit a misdemeanor other than trespass or assault and battery: A conviction is punishable with 1 to 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
WHAT ABOUT OTHER BURGLARY-RELATED CHARGES?
Virginia also prosecutes these other forms of burglary:
- Entering a bank with a deadly weapon with the intention of stealing money, bonds, or notes is a Class 2 felony.
- Breaking and entering into a railroad car, aircraft, or truck can be charged as a Class 3 felony.
- The illegal possession of burglary tools is a Class 5 felony in Virginia.
- Theft from pay phones, parking meters, and vending machines is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class 6 felony for a second offense.
Additionally, breaking and entering to destroy or damage real or personal property without the intent to steal is considered criminal mischief, which is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor or as a Class 6 felony depending on the value of the property that’s damaged.
HOW WILL A DEFENSE LAWYER HELP YOU FIGHT A BURGLARY CHARGE?
If you are charged with any form of burglary in or near the Fairfax area, you can’t afford to be represented by the wrong lawyer. Instead, you’ll need to speak with a Fairfax burglary attorney who has substantial experience and a record of success on behalf of burglary clients.
What steps will your defense attorney take? In most burglary cases, the first step is trying to have the charge dropped by the prosecutor or dismissed by the judge.
A burglary charge may be dropped or dismissed if police officers violated your legal rights during their investigation of the burglary or during a search, interrogation, or arrest.
If a burglary charge can’t be dropped or dismissed, and if you are the defendant, you’ll probably face a choice. If you genuinely believe that you are not guilty of burglary, you should dispute the charge and insist on a trial by jury.
However, if the state’s evidence against you is persuasive and a conviction is a foregone conclusion, your lawyer may suggest negotiating for – and accepting – the best possible plea bargain arrangement.
WHAT DEFENSES MAY BE OFFERED AGAINST A BURGLARY ALLEGATION?
If your burglary case goes to trial, a prosecutor will have to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict you. In many burglary prosecutions, a good Fairfax burglary attorney may be able to find flaws in the state’s case and cast doubt on the evidence against you.
Your lawyer might offer one of these arguments in your defense:
- The evidence is misleading: If your fingerprints were found at the scene of a burglary, your attorney may be able to prove that you were there at another time and for another reason.
- You’ve been misidentified: Someone who looks like you was in fact responsible for the burglary.
- The accusation was fabricated: Innocent people are sometimes accused of crimes that never even happened because of fabricated accusations by persons seeking to cause trouble or get revenge.
Fairfax criminal defense attorney Scott C. Nolan focuses his practice entirely on representing clients charged with crimes – including burglary crimes – in Northern Virginia. He has represented thousands of clients accused of serious charges, and he’s established a reputation for aggressive defense representation and for legal excellence.