Criminal statutes covering burglary, larceny, breaking and entering, and a range of other theft offenses in Virginia, D.C., and Maryland are multilayered and complex. It may be challenging to understand the full extent of the consequences you face if you have been arrested or come under investigation for this type of crime. However, if you’re accused of burglary, it’s important to understand the possible charges, the penalties, and how an attorney may be able to defend you.
What Is Burglary?
Virginia law states that burglary involves two elements:
- Breaking and entering into a home
- Having intent to commit a crime
Additionally, there are many types of burglary, which may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony. Because the different types of burglary carry different types of penalties, it’s important to know what you might be charged with:
- General burglary
- Armed burglary
- Statutory burglary
- Possession of burglarious tools
Serious Penalties Can Follow Burglary Charges
The fines and amount of jail time associated with burglary charges will depend on factors such as:
- Your alleged criminal intent when illegally entering someone's home, a business, or other premises—and if you did so with intent to commit assault and battery, murder, rape, or robbery
- Whether you were armed with a deadly weapon
- Any prior criminal record or history
Most all burglaries are charged as serious felonies. If you are accused of entering a home or business with intent to commit any crime, and if you have burglary tools or stolen property, you may face serious penalties. Possible penalties include:
- A Class 2 felony when breaking and entering while armed, which could result in prison time of up to 20 years to life and fines up to $100,000
- A Class 3 felony if you were unarmed during the act, punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison
- A permanent criminal record, which could negatively impact many aspects of your life, including the ability to obtain housing and get a job.
A Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Defend You
Because most burglaries are charged as Class 2 or 3 felonies under Virginia law, it’s essential to work with a lawyer who will challenge all aspects of your case and use all possible defenses. Your lawyer may be able to use any of the following defenses to get your charges reduced or dismissed:
- Alibi. If you were elsewhere at the time of the crime and can prove it, this information will help you.
- Consent. It’s possible you had permission to enter the premises and didn’t break into the residence or place of business at all.
- Challenged evidence. The prosecution may have a difficult time proving that you both broke in and had intent to commit a crime, and your lawyer can challenge evidence to defend you.
Your attorney may also consider a plea deal to lower the charges and penalties.
Our Team of Lawyers Is Here for You
You may feel worried about these burglary charges, but you don’t have to face the law and your defense alone. The legal team at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi has been defending clients in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia against harsh charges for years, and we’d like to hear about your case. Begin a conversation with one of our representatives today by starting a live online chat on our website.