Shoplifting, stealing, and committing larceny can all be considered a felony in Prince William County and all of Virginia when certain conditions are met, including:
- Changing the price tag or sale sticker on an item that’s worth over $500.
- Concealing an item that’s for sale and worth $500 or more while in a store.
- Possessing a gun or other firearm while stealing, no matter how much the item is worth.
Other facts that may not be widely known about felony grand larceny are:
- If store security or employees suspect you of shoplifting (based on probable cause) they can hold you up to an hour while waiting for police to arrive.
- A minimum of 2 years jail time is mandatory if caught stealing and intending to distribute or sell the items. Having more than one identical item is reason enough to suspect intent to sell.
- It can be harder than ever to have charges reduced from grand larceny (a felony) to a petit larceny (a misdemeanor) since Virginia changed the threshold from $200 to $500 in 2018. Prosecutors may be less likely to go along with reducing charges since the minimum value is now much higher. That threshold was last changed 40 years ago.
What is considered Grand Larceny in Virginia?
In Prince William County and all of Virginia, stealing or theft is called larceny. Larceny is taking property of value that belongs to other people or businesses, without their permission, and intending to permanently deprive the owner of the value of the items.
In Virginia, larceny is either Grand Larceny or Misdemeanor Petit Larceny, and is based on the value of the property taken. Felony Grand Larceny involves property that is worth more than $500 and is punished by up to 20 years in prison. A Misdemeanor Petit Larceny charge in Virginia means the property value is less than $500 and it is punished by up to 1 year in jail.
If you are accused of Grand Larceny or Petit Misdemeanor Larceny in Prince William County or Manassas, it is essential that you talk with an experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney to learn your legal rights and how you may be able to fight the charges against you. The same holds true for Stafford County charges of Grand Larceny or Petite Larceny, and any other region in Virginia.
Virginia Penalties for Larceny
How shoplifting is handled in Virginia
Shoplifting is a form of either petit larceny or grand larceny in which you steal goods, alter the price tag on goods or otherwise take merchandise without paying the required purchase price. You can be convicted of shoplifting without ever taking the item since concealing merchandise in a store can be evidence of your intent to shoplift. It has a separate section in Virginia law because there are phrases and words in the law that help convict someone of shoplifting. You can be detained by the store personnel, if they have probable cause to suspect you shoplifted, for up to one hour to wait for police officers to arrive.
There are three acts that are considered shoplifting:
- Hiding, concealing or taking an item in a store intentionally
- Changing the sticker or price tag of an item
- Moving items from one container to another
About Burglary, Fraud, Graffiti, Arson charges in Virginia
Burglary involves breaking and entering at with the intent to commit larceny or the intent to commit a felony. If you have a deadly weapon at the time, you will face Class 2 felony charges. Otherwise, you face the lesser Class 3 felony charges .
Fraud crimes are also crimes against property. Fraud crimes include computer fraud; identity theft and counterfeiting .
Damaging public buildings or property involves breaking into public buildings, and/or damaging books or magazines in public libraries. Graffiti or tagging may also constitute damaging public buildings. Depending on the amount of damage done, the crime may either be a misdemeanor (for damage less than $1000) or a felony (for damage more than $1000).
Arson involves setting a fire to cause destruction or damage. Arson may be either a Class 2 felony or Class 3 felony and, depending on the circumstances, may result in a sentence of up to 20 years of jail time.
Other theft offenses in Virginia include buying or receiving stolen goods, using a bad check to buy goods, and trespassing.
How to fight Grand Larceny charges
A number of defenses against theft offenses exist in the state of Virginia, depending upon the nature of the offense. For instance, you might argue lack of intent to steal, or you may try to introduce reasonable doubt as to whether you engaged in the theft offense.
If the evidence against you was collected in a way that violated your constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, you may argue for suppression of the evidence. If the court suppresses the evidence, the prosecutor may unable to prove the charges against you.
Whether this is your first offense, or your third, it is important to have an experienced Virginia Larceny Lawyer by your side to help you get the best possible outcome. Call or email for a free consultation soon with our experienced Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Nichols Zauzig today.
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