Is Breaking and Entering a Felony in Virginia?

Burglary in Virginia (Va. Code §18.2-89) is the breaking and entering of the dwelling house of another at night with the intent to commit a larceny or felony.  Burglary in Virginia is complete when entry is made with the felonious intent.  To convict an offender of burglary in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-89, the Commonwealth must prove breaking and entering the dwelling house of another at night with intent to commit a larceny or felony therein.

  • Breaking: Breaking means using force against a structure to gain entry.  The force does not need to cause damage.  Pushing a door open or even using a key without permission can be a breaking in Virginia.
  • Entering:  Entering is any intrusion into the interior space of a dwelling house.  The Commonwealth can prove entry by circumstantial evidence that a breaking of a dwelling house occurred and that goods were stolen from within the structure.  Entry with permission can even support a burglary conviction in Virginia if the offender entered with a plan to commit a larceny or felony.
  • Nighttime: The Commonwealth must prove the breaking and entering occurred at night (between sunset and sunrise) to convict an offender of burglary in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-89.
  • Dwelling House:  Burglary under Va. Code §18.2-89 can only be committed against a dwelling house.  A structure is a dwelling house if a person usually lodges there at night.  The occupant does not need to be present at the time of the breaking and entering to convict someone of burglary in Virginia.
  • Of Another: The structure that was entered must be the dwelling house of another.  A person cannot burglarize his own home.
  • Intent to Commit Larceny or Felony:  The Commonwealth must allege and prove that the accused intended to commit some specific crime.  This intent can be proven by circumstantial evidence.  An unexplained, unauthorized entry into an unoccupied structure can imply an intent to commit larceny.  The intended felony or larceny does not need to be completed for an offender to be convicted of burglary in Virginia.
  • Deadly Weapon: If the accused uses a deadly weapon in the commission of the burglary, the offense can be punished with up to life in prison.

Burglary in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-89 is a Class 3 felony.  It is punished with 5 to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $100,000.  If the accused used a deadly weapon in the commission of the burglary, the offense becomes a Class 2 felony, punished with a minimum of 20 years up to life in prison.  For more information on burglary in Virginia under Va. Code §18.2-89.