In Virginia, trespass (Va. Code § 18.2-119) is a crime against the property rights of another. It is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine. For a person to be guilty of trespassing, he must be on the property of a person who has lawful possession of the property. In addition, the person in possession of the property must have indicated to the trespasser that he or she was not to enter the property either orally, in writing, or through the use of a sign.
In Virginia, the person providing the no trespass notice does not necessarily have to be the owner of the property, but only needs to be in lawful possession of the property. In other words, a person renting property has the right to keep trespassers off their property.
In several courts throughout Northern Virginia, there is a general practice which allows individuals accused of trespassing to have their charges later dismissed so long as they do not have any violations of law for a specified period of time. The individual would admit that there are “facts sufficient” to find guilt and be placed on this First Offender Program whereby the individual would not commit any further violations of law, would not enter the property for which he allegedly trespassed, and after several months, the charges would be dismissed. Prior to entering such an agreement, please be sure to speak with a qualified Virginia defense attorney, particularly if you have immigration issues as the "First Offender Program" may have significant ramifications for your ability to stay in the United States.
Destruction of Property
Destruction of property is generally codified in Virginia Code § 18.2-137. The Code states if a person unlawfully damages or removes (without the intent to steal), any monument or memorial, he shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. However, if a person intentionally damages or removes (without the intent to steal) any monument or memorial, he will be guilty of Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine. Moreover, if the value of the property damaged or removed is worth $1,000.00 or more, then the person will be guilty of a Class 6 Felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a $2,500.00 fine.
The amount of loss caused by the destruction, defacing, damage or removal of such property, memorial or monument may be established by proof of the fair market cost of repair or fair market replacement value. Upon conviction, the court may order that the individual also pay restitution.
Peeping or Spying
In Virginia, peeping or spying (Va. Code § 18.2-130) is a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500.00 fine. The purpose of the law is to maintain a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy by prohibiting others from secretly spying or peeping. Specifically, the Virginia Code provides as follows:
§ 18.2-130. Peeping or spying into dwelling or enclosure.
A.It shall be unlawful for any person to enter upon the property of another and secretly or furtively peep, spy or attempt to peep or spy into or through a window, door or other aperture of any building, structure, or other enclosure of any nature occupied or intended for occupancy as a dwelling, whether or not such building, structure or enclosure is permanently situated or transportable and whether or not such occupancy is permanent or temporary, or to do the same, without just cause, upon property owned by him and leased or rented to another under circumstances that would violate the occupant’s reasonable expectation of privacy. B.It shall be unlawful for any person to use a peephole or other aperture to secretly or furtively peep, spy or attempt to peep or spy into a restroom, dressing room, locker room, hotel room, motel room, tanning bed, tanning booth, bedroom or other location or enclosure for the purpose of viewing any nonconsenting person who is totally nude, clad in undergarments, or in a state of undress exposing the genitals, pubic area, buttocks or female breast and the circumstances are such that the person would otherwise have a reasonable expectation of privacy. C.The provisions of this section shall not apply to a lawful criminal investigation or a correctional official or local or regional jail official conducting surveillance for security purposes or during an investigation of alleged misconduct involving a person committed to the Department of Corrections or to a local or regional jail. D.As used in this section, “peephole” means any hole, crack or other similar opening through which a person can see.
What if I am charged with a Property Offense?
If you or someone you know in the Northern Virginia Area has been charged with a property-related crime and needs the representation or legal advice of an experienced lawyer, call Noorishad Law, P.C. today at 703-542-4500, or complete the "schedule an appointment" form to meet with Mr. Noorishad to discuss your particular case.