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Virginia Theft Laws

In the state of Virginia, theft-related offenses are largely broken down into larceny, robbery, and burglary. Burglary offenses are a combination of theft (or attempted theft) and breaking & entering. Larceny is an offense where an individual steals something of value without the use of violence. Conversely, robbery is an offense where an individual steals something of value through the use or threat of force. Virginia larceny and robbery offenses are explained below. If you have been charged with larceny, robbery, or carjacking, please contact a Virginia theft lawyer today.

Larceny (Sections 18.2-95; 18.2-96; 18.2-97; 18.2-23; 18.2-108.01; 18.2-104)

Although larceny is no longer a common law offense in Virginia, it has been codified to keep the original elements of the crime: an individual must (1) intentionally (2) take and (3) carry away (4) the personal property (5) of another person (6) without that person’s consent. In Virginia, larceny is broken down into grand larceny and petit larceny (pronounced “petty” larceny). The two crimes are distinguished by the value of what was stolen, and whether it was taken from the victim’s immediate possession or not.

Grand Larceny (Section 18.2-95)

According to Section 18.2-95, an individual is guilty of grand larceny if the individual:

(a)   Steals something worth at least $5 from another person directly, or;

(b)  Steals at least $200 worth of items, or;

(c)   Steals a gun (regardless of value).

Grand larceny is felony. Thus, an individual guilty of grand larceny faces a felony conviction, with one to 20 years in prison, or, at the discretion of the jury or the court, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-95.

Petit Larceny (Sections 18.2-96; 18.2-104)

According to Section 18.2-96, an individual is guilty of petit larceny if the individual (1) steals less than $5 worth of items from someone’s person, or (2) steals less than $200 worth of items (not guns) from anywhere. Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor, thus an individual guilty of petit larceny faces up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-96; 18.2-11(a).

However, if an individual is guilty of petit larceny and the individual has a prior conviction from any jurisdiction for an offense that would qualify as any kind of larceny– then the individual faces 30 days to 12 months in jail. Section 18.2-104.

Furthermore, if the individual has at least two prior larceny-related convictions, then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony. Section 18.2-104. In the case where the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony, the individual faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Larceny of Certain Animals and Poultry (Section 18.2-97)

In the state of Virginia, it is a separate offense when an individual steals certain animals. There are two levels of larceny of certain animals, with different penalties depending on the kind of animals taken. First, an individual is guilty of a Class 5 felony if the individual steals a:

  • Dog
  • Horse
  • Pony
  • Mule
  • Cow
  • Steer
  • Bull
  • Calf

In such a case, an individual faces one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or up to $2,500 in fines. Section 18.2-10(e).

An individual is also guilty of larceny of certain animals or poultry if the individual steals:

  • Poultry worth more than $5
  • Sheep
  • Lamb
  • Swine
  • Goat

If the individual steals more than $200 worth of any of the animals listed above, the offense qualifies as grand larceny (see grand larceny section above). On the other hand, if the individual steals less than $200 worth of any animals in the list above then the individual is guilty of a Class 6 felony and faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sections 18.2-104; 18.2-10(f).

Conspiring to Commit Larceny Section 18.2-23(B)

If an individual (1) conspires to, counsels, or helps (2) someone commit larceny where the value of goods stolen is worth more than $200, then the individual is guilty of conspiring to commit larceny. Section 18.2-23(B). Conspiring to commit larceny is a felony and an individual guilty of this crime faces a felony conviction with one to 20 years in prison. In addition, if an individual is in a store and intentionally conceals goods or merchandise, then this is considered evidence that the individual intends to steal the goods or merchandise. Section 18.2-23(B).

Larceny with Intent to Sell or Distribute Section 18.2-108.01(A)

If an individual (1) steals at least $200 worth of items (2) with the intent to sell or distribute the stolen goods, then the individual is guilty of larceny with intent to sell or distribute. Section 18.2-108.01. If the individual stole “more than one item of the same product,” it is considered evidence of an intent to sell or distribute. If an individual is guilty of larceny with intent to sell or distribute, then the individual faces a felony conviction with two to 20 years in prison. Section 18.2-108.01(A).

Selling Stolen Goods Section 18.2-108.01(B)

Under the same section, it states that any individual who sells stolen goods worth at least $200 and who knew or should have known the property was stolen is guilty of selling stolen property. An individual is also guilty of this offense if the individual merely attempts to sell the stolen property, or if the individual possesses the stolen property with the intent to sell the stolen property. Section 18.2-108.01(B). Selling stolen property is a Class 5 felony, and any individual guilty of this crime faces a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Section 18.2-10(f).

Robbery Section 18.2-58

In the state of Virginia, like most jurisdictions, robbery is an offense that requires theft and violence (or threat of violence). Specifically, an individual is guilty of robbery if the individual robs a person through:

(1)   Violence (choking, beating, striking, etc.) to the victim, or;

(2)   Assault (putting the victim in fear of serious bodily harm), or;

(3)   Threatening to use or brandishing a gun or other deadly weapon.

Robbery is a felony, and any individual who is guilty of robbery faces a felony conviction with five years to life in prison. Section 18.2-58.

Carjacking Section 18.2-58.1

In essence, carjacking is a more serious robbery offense that only applies when the robbery is of a person’s vehicle. Under Section 18.2-58.1(B), an individual is guilty of carjacking if the individual (1) intentionally (2) takes another person’s vehicle or takes control of another person’s vehicle (3) with intent to permanently or temporarily deprive the person of the person’s vehicle through:

  • Violence (choking, hitting, etc.) to the victim
  • Assault (putting the victim in fear of serious bodily harm)
  • Threatening to use or brandishing a gun or other deadly weapon

If an individual is guilty of carjacking, then the individual faces a felony conviction with 15 years to life in prison. Section 18.258.1(A). Moreover, being charged with carjacking does not prevent the individual from being charged with other offenses for conduct involved in carjacking. Section 18.2-58.1(C).

Attempting Theft-related Offenses Section 18.2-26

Unless otherwise noted, an individual guilty of attempting a theft-related felony will face the following penalties:

  • Attempted robbery and attempted carjacking are Class 4 felonies, and any individual guilty of those crimes will face a felony conviction with two to 10 years in prison and a possible fine of up to $100,000.
  • Attempted grand larceny, and attempted larceny with intent to distribute are Class 5 felonies, and any individual guilty of those crimes will face a felony conviction with one to 10 years in prison, or, at the discretion of a jury or the court, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Attempted larceny of certain animals, and attempted sale of stolen property are Class 6 felonies, and any individual guilty of those crimes faces a felony conviction with one to five years in prison, or, at the discretion of the court or a jury, lesser penalties of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
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