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Fairfax Larceny Lawyer

Larceny is another way of saying theft in Fairfax, and it means the unlawful taking of something of value from another with an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

First there is a distinction between misdemeanor larceny and felony larceny. The two main categories are petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor and grand larceny, which is a felony offense. The distinction between what makes it a misdemeanor versus a felony is the value of the items that were stolen. If it’s less than $200 then it’s considered petit larceny or a misdemeanor. If it’s $200 or more then it is grand larceny or a felony.

Petit Larceny

If the value of the items stolen is less than $200 then it is considered petit larceny or a misdemeanor. A petit larceny charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.

Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense which means that the potential penalties are up to 12 months in jail and/or $2500 fine. There is also a felony in Virginia called petit larceny third, which means that if a person has two prior convictions for larceny offenses then the third conviction, even if the value of the stolen item is less less than $200, can be charged as a felony and that would be a Class 6 felony with penalties up to five years in prison.

Prosecution of Petit Larceny Charges in Fairfax

For petit larceny first offenses there is a unique program in Fairfax County that does allow for first time offenders to participate in a program to allow for the charge to be dismissed. Typically, that program would include a shoplifter’s awareness class which is three hours and then 50 hours of community service as well as the person remaining on good behavior for a period of either six months or twelve months. If the person successfully completes those requirements then the charge is dismissed. That program is unique from other local jurisdictions, which is why it is beneficial to retain a local Fairfax larceny lawyer when dealing with such a charge.

Long-Term Consequences

Theft or larceny is a  a crime of moral turpitude, which is a term used to describe crimes involving lying, cheating, and stealing. Depending on what your particular situation is, for instance what your profession is, or what your immigration status is, having a conviction of larceny or a crime of moral turpitude could close a lot of doors. If you’re not a U.S. citizen, depending on the type of larceny offense and the sentence that was imposed, it could result in deportation or inadmissibility at a future date. If you’re a U.S. citizen, depending on the type of job that you have, for instance if you have a job that requires a security clearance, then having a conviction for larceny could be extremely damaging and could put your security clearance at risk.

Also, having a larceny charge on your record in Virginia after a conviction or you are unsuccessful on appeal, there is no process by which the conviction is just dropped off of your record over the passage of time. You cannot just get that expunged, even if you’re young and in your twenties and you get convicted of a relatively minor offense of petit larceny that could potentially stay with you your entire life. Though a petit larceny charge may seem like a minor charge, it very damaging to have a conviction of larceny or any crime of moral turpitude on your record going forward if you’re looking to have any type of professional career in the future.

Probation or Alternative Sentencing

There is a program in Fairfax County that allows for participants to engage in probation which would require a shoplifters’ prevention class as well as 50 hours of community service and good behavior for a period of either 12 or 6 months, that would allow for the person to be able to earn a dismissal in Fairfax County.

Grand Larceny in Fairfax

Grand larceny is the equivalent of felony larceny in Fairfax, if the value of the items is $200 or more. Larceny of a firearm is also a felony offense regardless of the value of the firearm itself. Additionally, a third or subsequent offense of petit larceny can be charged as a felony offense. There is no separate offense for auto theft, it is considered grand larceny if the value of the vehicle is $200 or more which obviously it will be. Another form of automobile related theft is the unauthorized use of a vehicle. That means that a person used another person’s car without consent but without the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. A lot of times this type of charge is used when people fail to return a rental vehicle on time.

Prosecution of Grand Larceny

Grand larceny has a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Somebody with no prior record who is accused of stealing a $200 handbag will be charged with a felony offense in Fairfax. This result is harsh given the very low monetary threshold between a misdemeanor or felony offense. The threshold dollar amount that makes it a felony versus a misdemeanor is completely outdated and it’s not indicative of the common modern day value of items compared to 30-40 years ago. People should be aware of that and understand that just because they’re charged in court with shoplifting it does not mean it’s not serious. Something that may seem minor could escalate into a very serious charge that will reflect poorly on someone’s record for a long time.

In Fairfax County, there is the opportunity for the first offender treatment, which is appropriate because most people do rehabilitate themselves. First offender treatment provides people with the opportunity to maintain a clean criminal record is good for the individuals but also society at large. For second offenses, judges will impose a jail sentence. So yes, I would agree with that that larceny is taken very seriously in Fairfax County.

Importance of Hiring a Fairfax Larceny Lawyer

Just because somebody is charged with an offense doesn’t mean that person is going to get convicted of the offense, even though larceny charges are prosecuted very vigorously. Having a Fairfax larceny attorney who practices criminal law exclusively and practices in the jurisdiction in which they’re charged is extremely helpful because they’ll not only know the judges and prosecutors, but they understand what programs are available to avoid convictions or they might have familiarity with the local shops that routinely charge people with shoplifting such as Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Walmart, Giant, or Safeway. Those are the stores that are routinely in court.

An experienced larceny lawyer in Fairfax would know if there are any documents or video that could be obtained through subpoena from the loss prevention offices of those different stores to get that evidence before going to trial to be able to prepare the case. They can also provide valuable guidance for someone looking to defend themselves against a larceny charge after an arrest.