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What constitutes the crime of burglary under Virginia law?

When people picture the crime of burglary, they may imagine a person kicking down a door and running away with cash or other stolen goods in the dead of night. However, even acts that are not so nefarious can be considered burglary under Virginia law.

Under the Code of Virginia section 18.2-89, a person commits burglary if certain elements are met. First, the accused must have broken and entered into another individual’s dwelling. While the forceful entry might be as violent as the aforementioned example, the fact of the matter is that picking a lock to enter, or even simply entering through a window or door that was unlocked, could constitute breaking and entering.

Second, the accused must have committed the crime during the nighttime hours. It may seem obvious, but it is worth reiterating that if the alleged crime took place during the daytime hours, it cannot be considered burglary under Virginia law.

Third, the accused must have had the intent to enter the property to commit some type of felony crime or any form of larceny, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony. If a person enters the home of another, but has no intention to do anything illegal, then he or she may have committed a crime, but not burglary.

As you can see, not all burglaries are as violent as movies and television shows depict them. However, burglary is considered a Class 3 felony. Moreover, if the accused committed burglary while armed with a deadly weapon, then the crime is considered a Class 2 felony. That being said, certain elements must be met in order for a person to be convicted of burglary. If the prosecution fails to prove these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, then a conviction cannot be obtained.

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