Burglary is a complex charge in Virginia where the details influence the penalties if convicted. It is also a crime of violence in Virginia. So regardless of what happened or your prior record, this is not something you can or should handle alone. To avoid a lengthy prison sentence and everything that goes with a felony conviction on your record, call an experienced burglary lawyer in Roanoke as soon as possible.
With decades of experience in felony burglary cases and a long history of getting the best possible outcomes when the results matter, Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico should be your first call. Contact our Roanoke defense lawyers at (540) 343-9349.
We offer free, initial consultations where we will explain your rights, options, and next steps.
Breaking and Entering & Burglary in Roanoke
The terms burglary and breaking and entering are often used interchangeably. However, breaking and entering is just part of a burglary offense.
Legally, the breaking happens when you open or create an entrance into a building. “Breaking” can be something as slight as pushing an open door wide enough to enter. The “entering” is going into the building. To be charged with burglary you must gain access by way of force, and break-in without permission.
Keep in mind, your entry must have criminal intent. Otherwise, the crime is not a burglary under Virginia law. But it could still be a lesser, included offense.
Virginia Burglary Laws
Burglary crimes are classified under the common law or statutory definition under Virginia law.
Common Law Burglary
§ 18.2-89 describes burglary as breaking and entering a home at night with the intent to commit a felony or any larceny inside. Common law burglary does not distinguish which felonies are intended during the offense, while statutory burglary does.
A violation can happen at night or daytime so long as someone has the intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson. The statute applies to any building or into a vehicle used for habitation. Obvious examples include single-family homes, apartments, or condominiums, but also extend to houseboats or recreational vehicles.
<§ 18.2 - 91 covers a burglary with the intent to commit larceny, assault and battery, or other felony that is not murder, rape, robbery or arson. While the statutory description may appear identical to §18.2-90, the difference is that the intent to commit a less serious offense once inside.
This offense, if committed without a deadly weapon, is unclassified. As such, the potential penalties are wide-ranging and will likely be determined by the jury or court. However, if a deadly weapon is involved, then it is a Class 2 Felony.
Burglary with Intent to Commit a Misdemeanor
Another burglary charge describes situations, where the intent involved, was to commit a misdemeanor. § 18.2-92 describes breaking and entering into a home while someone is inside, during the day or at night, while also intending to commit a misdemeanor other than assault and battery or trespass. This is considered less severe and classified as a Class 6 Felony.
Like the other burglary charges, this also states that if you are in possession of a deadly weapon then the offense becomes a Class 2 Felony.
Possession of Burglary Tools
This is separate from burglary in Virginia, although possession of burglarious tools is often charged along with burglary. Possession of burglarious tools is defined as being in possession of any object that can be used to help steal or break into another person’s property, plus an intent to commit one of the named felonies.
Burglary Defense Options
To be convicted for burglary in Virginia the government must prove two things:
That you entered a dwelling without consent or through force.
You had the intention, or developed the intent to commit a felony or misdemeanor.
The details and facts will obviously dictate the defense strategy that is right for you. Your burglary attorney will not only employ the standard defenses such as alibi and consent but also highlight problems with the evidence and negotiate to secure a favorable resolution.
Proving intent can be very difficult for prosecutors. It is important to look at the context of the entry to see if intent can be assumed.
Regardless of the particular burglary offense or the details, there are likely too many nuances to navigate the situation on your own. We strongly encourage you to work with a burglary lawyer who has a history of success in Roanoke.
Facing burglary charges in Virginia?
If you’ve been charged with burglary in Roanoke, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help. Based on the circumstances you me be able to get the case reduced, dismissed, or prove your innocence in the courtroom. For a free initial consultation, call (540) 343-9349 today.