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The Commonwealth of Virginia has some of the toughest shoplifting and larceny laws in the United States. For instance, the theft of money or items exceeding $200 in value is a Grand Theft and a felony in Virginia (where in other states it is usually higher). However, the larceny of an item or money valued at five dollars can still be a felony if it's taken directly from the body of a person (i.e. pick-pocketing).
In addition to the dollar amount criteria, there are a number of situations and types of properties that can bring about enhanced charges. Stealing firearms, bank notes, checks, live animals, et cetera can carry increased penalties, regardless of the value of the items. Sometimes, the place or manner in which the property is stolen can intensify the severity of the charge. Entering a dwelling or removing property that's affixed to a building may affect the way that a Virginia police officer charges a person with a crime or the way that a prosecutor pursues the case.
The following terms are useful for understanding the Commonwealth of Virginia's larceny laws:
Grand Larceny: The theft of $200 or more, $5 or more from a person, or the theft of a firearm (regardless of the value). This is a felony punishable by one to twenty years in prison.
Petit Larceny: The theft of money or property valued less than $200, or less than $5 if from a person. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor punished by less than one year in jail.
Receiving/Possession of Stolen Property The receipt or possession of stolen goods is charged in the same way as the theft of those goods. Therefore, the same value criteria and penalties apply.
Retail Theft/Shoplifting: Removing property from a store or altering tags on the items to pay a lower price for an item is a misdemeanor if the value stolen or attempted to be stolen is less than $200, and a felony if the value is $200 or greater. If there are two previous convictions for shoplifting, the charge can be increased to a felony, regardless of the value.
Theft is a serious crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In nearly all cases, there is the potential for jail time. If you have been arrested for a property crime or theft, you need to retain the services of a competent, experienced Virginia criminal law attorney. Theft/Larceny is considered a crime of moral turpitude which will have long term consequences on your record; it could affect your getting hired or placement in a position.
Please feel free to call Carleton Penn, III, (703) 501-4900 to discuss this further.