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Evidence Used in Virginia Theft Prosecutions

Larceny is a serious charge in Virginia that requires a strong defense. If convicted, you could be looking at hefty fines and significant jail time.

An experienced Virginia theft attorney can explain the legal process to you, conduct their own investigation, gather the evidence, and present you with various options on your case and what to expect at trial.

What Does the Prosecution Need to Prove

The primary thing the prosecution needs to prove in a larceny case is that somebody took something of value without authority to do so.  The value is often an issue that could be a target for the defense to explore when you’re dealing with grand larceny cases.

So for instance if you have a situation in which somebody stole something that did not have a easily determined value.  For instance it could be a piece of jewelry that belonged to someone else, but that person had no idea how much they paid for it or it was a gift so the value is  difficult for someone to ascertain.  Or the value of an item be subject to depreciation.  Value is an element that the prosecution has to prove. Usually it’s pretty easy but there are cases in which they can be difficult.

Types of Evidence Used in Theft Cases

It is the victim’s testimony whether the victim is CVS or Macy’s or a neighbor who lives down the street, the prosecution has to present evidence that there was a taking without the consent, or against the will of the owner.

In store cases there is often video of the theft, especially stores like Macy’s and Target who have really sophisticated video surveillance systems. The video surveillance in those stores is always running.  They have a dedicated loss prevention staff that’s always looking and watching and waiting for a shop lifter.

Video surveillance, eye witness testimony, stolen goods in the possession of the person in their bag, in their coat pocket, in their car, in their socks, and also the statements that the person makes when they are confronted by either a store employee or they’re confronted by law enforcement are all typically categories of evidence. And then often sometimes you will see cases in which the cases are solved because the person has pawned the item and that is how law enforcement gets a lead.

With the pawn records, the prosecution has pawn shop witnesses who have to come to court to prove that the individual pawned the stolen property.  This is evidence that the person was in possession of stolen property which is evidence of the larceny, but it is also a separate offense.

How Do You Refute Theft Case Evidence

It all depends on the case and on the type of evidence. If it is video evidence, you cannot just take the word of the witness or the prosecutor who says the crime was caught on video, end of story.  Your attorney has to see the video to make sure that it is clear that the person is actually concealing the item and taking it without paying for it.

Sometimes store security video is fuzzy which may be beneficial to a client’s case.  It is not unusual for a store employee to say everything was clear cut on the video, but then you look at the video and it is not very clear.

You also want to fight the admissibility of evidence, for instance the client’s statements. Were they properly advised of their rights to remain silent when they were in custody? Each case is different, but the same basic types of evidence in all criminal cases is basically the same.

Sex offenses are a little bit different as there’s unique types of examinations that are done in sex cases, but if we’re talking about other criminal cases you are always working to fight the admissibility of every part of the evidence either on a constitutional basis or another basis.

For instance, attacking the chain of custody of physical evidence is important to consider or objecting to the admissibility of evidence on other technical grounds, such as relevancy or hearsay must always be considered.  There is no exception in larceny cases.

Constitutional Issues in Larceny Cases

Search and seizure issues and issues relating to a client’s statement to the police are relevant in larceny cases just like any other case.

How did the police find these alleged stolen items? Did they search the car without a warrant, without probable cause? Did they claim that an individual allowed and consented to a search?  Were they properly advised of their rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning before they talked to police.  These are questions that need to be addressed when evaluating a criminal case including larceny cases.

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