There are many different forms of burglary recognized in Virginia today, but the most common concept of burglary is when someone trespasses inside of a man-made structure with the intent to further commit another crime while inside the structure. Burglary charges can have severe consequences for those who have been charged. A Prince William County burglary lawyer could be an invaluable asset in a person’s defense. Speak with a hardworking theft attorney that could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome for you.
All Virginia jurisdictions treat burglaries seriously, but jurisdictions that are more rural or semi-rural in nature treat them the most seriously. The prosecution is typically under great institutional pressure to aggressively pursue burglary cases in order to send a message to property owners and other would-be burglars in the community. This is so even if the assigned prosecutor does not personally care much about a given burglary charge.
There are many different kinds of burglary offenses, but the most commonly charged type of burglary offense is known as statutory burglary.
There are multiple kinds of statutory burglary as well, but as for the most typical form of statutory burglary, the prosecution will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that: (1) the accused entered into a building permanently attached to land; (2) without permission, and (3) with the intent to further commit a theft, assault or any felony other than murder, rape, robbery or arson while inside the building.
If the building entered was locked, the use of physical force to enter the building will also need to be proven, but only an entry will need to be proven whether or not force was used on the building if the entry occurred at night. An entry can even be the slightest intrusion of part of someone’s body into the internal space of a building. The prosecution will separately have to prove the basic circumstances of the charge such as jurisdiction, venue and the correct date of offense as well as building address. A Prince William County burglary lawyer could attempt to disprove those elements.
Burglary is a much more serious crime than trespassing. All burglaries inherently include trespassing, but no trespassing will ever constitute a burglary. Burglary includes the additional elements of actually entering into a physical structure rather than just an area of land and doing so with the intent to commit a further crime in that structure after entering. Trespassing is almost never a felony offense, whereas burglary is always a felony offense.
Attempted burglary is a felony that can be punished just as severely as a successful burglary. However, damage to someone else’s property can also be punished as its own additional offense. Destruction of property, which is also informally referred to as “vandalism” is punishable as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Virginia depending on the amount of money necessary to repair or replace the property. Currently, the monetary dividing line between a misdemeanor and felony is $1,000.
Burglaries can range from the lowest level of Virginia felonies, which is a Class 6 felony punishable by up to five years in prison and up to a $2,500 fine, to the middle level of Virginia felonies which is a Class 3 felony punishable by 5 to 20 years of imprisonment and up to a $100,000 fine. The exceptions are burglaries involving deadly weapons, which are Class 2 felonies punishable by 20 years to life in prison and up to a $100,000 fine. An experienced Prince William County burglary lawyer could mitigate the penalties that you face.
If a deadly weapon is used, the burglary becomes a Class 2 felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison, and up to a $100,000 fine. If the burglary involved intent to commit a violent felony or if the burglary resulted in harm to the alleged victims or their property, those instances will certainly aggravate a burglary sentence as well. Another aggravating factor is whether the burglary was likely to bring the perpetrator into hostile contact with other people, which would turn on considerations like the time of day the burglar entered the property and what kind of building the burglar entered.
Burglaries are always felonies and are one of the most serious crimes in Virginia law. They can easily ruin someone’s life both inside and outside of the legal system, and they often result in a person being held in jail for months before the trial actually occurs unless a Prince William County burglary lawyer successfully argues for a bond that the accused can afford to pay. That is why those who have been charged should speak with a capable burglary attorney that could build a solid defense for them.
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