Virginia Shoplifting Attorney
A criminal record, even for a seemingly minor offense, can have a significant impact on one’s reputation and employment options. Being charged with shoplifting in Virginia can create a personal and financial burden that extends beyond the possible jail time associated with the crime. If you have been detained for shoplifting or have been charged with shoplifting in Virginia, the assistance provided by an experienced Virginia shoplifting lawyer is invaluable.
While you may feel that your shoplifting charge is a dead end, an attorney can help you explore defense options for beating the charge or, at the very least, minimizing its impact on your life. For more general information on theft charges in Virginia, click that link.
Virginia Shoplifting Laws
Shoplifting is a property crime and is prosecuted similarly to a Virginia larceny charge. Section 18.2-103 of the Code of Virginia defines the offense of shoplifting as the following: “Whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own or another’s use without having paid the full price thereof, or of defrauding the owner of the value of the goods or merchandise:
- (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or mercantile establishment.
- (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another.
- (iii) counsels, assists, aids, or abets another in the performance of any of the above acts, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is less than $200, shall be guilty of petit larceny and, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is $200 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny.”
Theft Charges in Virginia
Theft may be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property stolen. Virginia theft laws are much stricter than in many other states, and felony theft charges are even more serious. In some states, the dividing line between misdemeanor theft and felony theft is $1,000. In Virginia, however, theft of property valued at just $200 or more is considered felony theft, or grand larceny. Grand larceny is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
If the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $200, then the shoplifting would be charged as petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Petit larceny carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a potential fine of up to $2,500.
Regardless of whether your shoplifting charge is prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor, the penalties that accompany a conviction can have a significant impact on your personal and professional life. Serving any length of time in jail can damage your personal relationships with friends and family members and also cause you to lose your job. You may experience financial strain because of that job loss combined with the expensive fines you may be forced to pay.
Individuals with a criminal offense on their record often face additional penalties outside of jail sentences and expensive fines. Certain employers refuse to hire individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor or felony offenses. Felony convictions can also prevent you from enjoying certain constitutional rights, including the right to own a firearm and the right to vote. Further, taking advantage of educational opportunities and obtaining a loan may also be more difficult for those who are found guilty of criminal offenses.
It is important to be well-informed about the charges you are facing and the possible penalties in order to have the best chance at protecting yourself from the myriad negative consequences associated with a conviction.
Defenses Against Shoplifting Charges
Some possible defenses to shoplifting include mistaken identity and lack of intent. In some situations, a Virginia shoplifting lawyer may accomplish reduced charges by proving that the value of the merchandise is less than $200.
Finally, a Virginia shoplifting attorney may be able to negotiate a first offender disposition, which will result in your case being dismissed and a clean record upon successful completion of probationary terms. Such a potential outcome is dependent on the unique facts and circumstances of each case.
Despite how a store security guard or officer may make you feel, shoplifting is not an open-and-shut case. There are several factors which can impact the severity of the charge and the likelihood of dismissal.
Our team of dedicated defense lawyers can aggressively explore all defense options to maximize the strength of your defense and minimize the effect a shoplifting charge may have on your life. In order to explore all your options for a strong defense, contact our Virginia law office today and schedule a no-cost case evaluation.