Theft offenses are classified as larceny under Virginia law. While some types of larceny are relatively minor offenses, others are felonies that carry the potential for serious punishments. Given the potential consequences of a conviction, getting the advice of a Springfield theft lawyer when facing any type of theft charges may be appropriate.
The threshold for a larceny offense to become a felony is low. With the potential for imprisonment, fines, and restitution, a felony conviction can have other unanticipated consequences. This includes the loss of certain civil rights, which may include a person’s right to possess a firearm. Seeking legal representation from a dedicated criminal attorney may be useful in this situation.
Virginia law divides larceny into two categories: petit larceny and grand larceny. Pursuant to Va. Code § 18.2-96, petit larceny involves property valued at less than $500, or property valued at less than five dollars that was taken directly from the person of another. Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, which can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.
Alternatively, grand larceny is defined at Va. Code § 18.2-95 and involves property valued at $500 or more, or property valued at five dollars or more and taken directly from the person of another. Some property also automatically qualifies as grand larceny no its value. This includes firearms. While grand larceny is a felony offense that has the potential to result in a prison sentence ranging from one to 20 years, the judge has the discretion to enter a substantially lesser sentence.
Pursuant to Va. Code § 18.2-97, it is also a Class 5 felony to steal dogs, horses, cattle pursuant, and other specific animals. Individuals should note that it is a Class 6 felony to steal poultry, sheep, pigs, or goats valued at less than $500. Under Va. Code § 18.2-10, a Class 5 felony conviction may result in up to ten years in prison, and a Class 4 felony conviction could result in up to five years in prison.
Shoplifting is a separate offense from larceny pursuant to Va. Code § 18.2-103. It should be noted that the charges are the same as those for larceny: for items valued at less than $500, the offense is a misdemeanor, and for items valued at more than $500, the offense is a felony. Since the consequences of shoplifting, similar to larceny, can be harsh, consulting a theft attorney in Springfield is advisable.
Shoplifting generally occurs when individuals intentionally hide or remove merchandise from a store, change the price tags, or move merchandise from one container to another. This offense also occurs if individuals assist others in taking any of the actions that constitute shoplifting.
To prove a shoplifting charge, there also must be evidence that the individuals intended to take one of the actions listed above without paying the full purchase price, and for the purpose of using the merchandise for their own gain or that of another person. Alternatively, there must be evidence that the persons intended to defraud the owner of the value of the merchandise.
With the penalties outlined for each criminal offense, individuals who commit larceny may civilly liable to store owners for the $50 or twice the value of the stolen property, whichever is greater.
Under Va. Code § 8.01-44.4, if the store owner is able to regain possession of the property in a resaleable condition, restitution by the accused is limited to $350. There are also reasonable court costs and attorney fees not to exceed $150.
The financial penalties associated with a larceny conviction can be quite extensive, particularly when combined with this civil liability. Consequently, help from a theft attorney in Springfield may be beneficial when facing any type of larceny charges.
Whether larceny charges are a misdemeanor or felony offense, the implications of a permanent criminal record involving dishonesty can be devastating to your future plans. That record could cost you the ability to pursue certain careers, get better jobs, and improve yourself through higher education. A Springfield theft lawyer could be instrumental in helping you avoid these repercussions.
There may be defenses available in larceny cases and better alternatives for resolving the charges against you. Do not hesitate to get the legal advice and assistance that you need in this situation.
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