Being charged with theft may not seem like a serious matter, at first, but it can carry severe consequences for you and your reputation. Many people do not understand exactly what constitutes theft. Under Virginia law, what is commonly called “theft” often falls under the criminal offense of “larceny.”
An experienced Virginia larceny lawyer can explain these charges and help to defend you against these charges. You can also read more about theft charges in Virginia here.
The primary difference between grand larceny and petit larceny is that grand larceny is considered a felony, while petit larceny is a misdemeanor. As a general rule the difference between the felony and misdemeanor is determined by the value of the item that has been allegedly stolen. If it’s $200 or more makes it a felony, if it’s less than $200 then it’s a misdemeanor.
Obviously that threshold is extremely low given this day and age, so you’re going to see a lot of grand larceny charges that in reality are more appropriately resolved as a misdemeanors. There are specific types of grand larceny. For instance there’s larceny of a firearm which is automatically a felony in Virginia and then you also have credit card larceny.
The differences between these types of charges generally come down to what is allegedly stolen, and what’s the value.
There is a separate charge for “concealment” in Virginia. A person can be charged with concealment when they haven’t even taken the merchandise out of the store, they’ve just positioned the merchandise in a way in which their intent to take it from the store is inferred. Or they could be convicted if they altered the price tag or other price marking the intent to steal and the value is less than $200.
That is what we call concealment, which is similar to shoplifting, but shoplifting in general is really petit larceny in Virginia. They are punished the same way.
Also there is grand larceny by virtue of being convicted the third time with petit larceny. So if you have someone that keeps stealing beer from 7-Eleven, even though it’s petit larceny the third offense could be charged as a felony.
It is very common to see theft from stores like Target, Macy’s, CVS, as well as grocery stores. Mostly retail stores, which is why those cases sometimes can be challenging because there is an entire staff that is dedicated to catching the shoplifters, and often they have very sophisticated video surveillance and procedures set up to apprehend shoplifters and gather evidence.
The penalty for petit larceny up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500 fine. And generally speaking if it is a retail theft then the retailer is going to civilly prohibit that person from coming back on the property. The penalty for grand larceny is up to 20 years, but it would be as an extreme case to see somebody in prison for 20 years for one count of grand larceny.
Even if you’re charged with just petit larceny having that conviction on your record may detrimentally impact a person’s career or immigration status. You want to have a knowledgeable Virginia Larceny attorney who knows the jurisdiction and knows how cases are handled to try to get the best result possible because a theft conviction is not something that you want to deal with for the rest of your life.
You certainly don’t want to go it alone and go to court without representation because you could have defenses that could be raised to beat the case at trial or to negotiate a favorable plea agreement.
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