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Prince William County Felony Theft Lawyer

There are a few different kinds of felony theft crimes in Virginia, but the most common offense is known as grand larceny. The only difference between a grand larceny and a petty larceny is the value of the allegedly stolen goods. A few hundred dollars is petty larceny, whereas, thousands of dollars is grand larceny. There are some exceptions to this for specific types of property like animals and firearms. The consequences for a crime like felony theft can be quite severe. That is why if an individual has been charged with a felony theft offense, they should consider consulting a Prince William County felony theft lawyer. An intelligent theft attorney could devote the time and resources necessary to achieve a positive outcome for an individual.

Elements of Felony Theft

Grand larceny consists of the following elements:

  • The accused took possession of some item of property that belonged to someone else
  • The accused intended to permanently separate the owner from that property at the time of taking possession
  • The owner did not consent to the accused taking the property, and
  • The value of the property at the time it was taken was $500 or more

The $500 threshold is a new law in Virginia that only applies to grand larceny charges occurring on or after July 1st, 2018. For prior cases, the grand larceny threshold is $200 or more. The prosecution will also have to prove the basic circumstances of the alleged felony theft such as jurisdiction, venue, and date of commission.

Differences Between Theft and Misdemeanor Theft

As a Prince William County felony theft lawyer can explain, the main difference between felony and misdemeanor theft in Virginia is the amount of money that the stolen property is worth. Felony theft is for higher amounts and misdemeanor theft is for lower amounts. There are three big exceptions to this.

The first is that felony theft is also reserved for situations where a defendant literally steals some property from someone else’s immediate person, such as picking someone’s pocket. This can constitute a felony theft even if the property taken was almost worthless. The second exception is when a person is charged with committing a third or subsequent petty theft. Virginia law enhances those thefts to felony status as a way to deter repeat offenders. The third exception is for specific types of property being stolen regardless of value, such as firearms and live animals.

Aggravating Factors in a Misdemeanor Theft Case

If someone steals multiple items of property at once that individually would only have led to a misdemeanor charge, that can aggravate the charge to felony theft. Moreover, if someone steals an item of property from the immediate person of someone else, such as picking their pocket or purse while the purse is on them, that can aggravate the charge to a felony even if the property was not worth much money. If a person commits what would otherwise have been a misdemeanor larceny for a third or subsequent time, that will aggravate the charge to a felony regardless of how much the stolen property was worth. Finally, if a person steals certain kinds of property to which Virginia law has given special recognition like firearms of live animals, that can aggravate the charge to felony theft as well.

Steps in Building a Felony Theft Case

A Prince William County felony theft lawyer will first want to confirm the reason why the charge is a felony rather than a misdemeanor, and get a summary account of what happened between the victim and the accused. The lawyer may also want to know what a potential client’s criminal history is and whether or not they would be able to pay any restitution owed to the alleged victim before the case is over.

Potential Penalties for a Felony Theft Offense

Although the financial penalties for misdemeanor and felony theft are the same in terms of fines, the amount of potential jail time is dramatically increased for a felony theft. Standard felony theft can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but there is no mandatory minimum term of incarceration. Misdemeanor theft can only be punished by up to 12 months in jail.

Benefits of a Prince William County Felony Theft Attorney

There are many benefits to hiring an experienced Prince William County felony theft lawyer to handle a case. Such an attorney is more likely to be able to work out informal arrangements with the alleged victims and prosecutors that lead to the charge being reduced.

Such an attorney is also more skilled at taking felony theft charges to trial and getting an acquittal or an outcome that is better than what the prosecution is willing to offer without a trial. Experienced local attorneys are also useful in predicting case outcomes for clients who are trying to plan and risk their immediate futures around the results of a felony theft case. If you have been charged with a felony theft offense, speak with a skilled theft attorney that could fight for you.

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