Virginia Burglary Laws

Traditionally, burglary is defined as "a breaking and entering of a dwelling at night with the intent to commit a felony or a larceny (theft) inside." Virginia law recognizes this common law definition. However, the state expands the scope of its burglary laws by categorizing similar offenses as "statutory burglary." These offenses are based on the specific circumstances and the actor's intent during the burglary. For instance, there's one classification of statutory burglary that involves an actor who intends to murder, rob, rape, or commit arson; another classification is for intended larceny, assault and battery, and other felonies.

Virginia Burglary Laws at a Glance

While it's pivotal to understand every part of a statute (which is the job of an attorney), it's also important to realize that a presentation of the statutes written in everyday language provides a great way to gain basic familiarity with the law. The chart below provides a synopsis of Virginia's burglary laws.

Statutes

Burglary Offenses

Burglary

  • Elements of the crime: the individual breaks/enters the home of a person at night with the intent to steal something or commit a felony.
  • Penalty: Class 3 felony, punishable by 5-20 years in prison. With a deadly weapon: Class 2 felony, punishable by 20 years- life imprisonment.

Statutory Burglary

Intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson

  • Elements of the crime: An individual commits a burglary at night without "breaking in" or during the day by "breaking and entering" with the intent of committing a murder, rape, robbery, or arson.
  • Penalty: Class 3 felony, punishable by 5-20 years in prison. With a deadly weapon: Class 2 felony, punishable by 20 years- life imprisonment and/or a fine up to $100,000.

Intent to commit larceny, assault and battery, or other felony

  • Elements of the crime: An individual commits a burglary at night without "breaking in" or during the day by "breaking and entering" with the intent to commit larceny, assault and battery, or other felony.
  • Penalty: 5-20 years in prison and/or fines up to $100,000. With a deadly weapon: 20 years-life in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000.

Possible Defenses

  • Mistake of fact
  • Lack of intent
  • Intoxication

Related Offenses

  • Possession of burglarious tools: Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-94
  • Breaking/entering with intent to commit a misdemeanor: Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-92
  • Entering bank, armed with intent to commit larceny: Va. Code Ann. Section 18.2-93

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Virginia Burglary Laws: Related Resources

Get a Virginia Attorney to Help with Your Burglary Case

If you've been accused of violating Virginia's burglary laws, then you could be subject to incarceration and costly fines. Anytime your life and livelihood is in jeopardy, you should act in your best interests and talk to a criminal defense attorney to assess your options.

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