What Is Petit Larceny in Virginia?
In Virginia, petty theft is legally referred to as petit or petty larceny. One key factor to distinguish between petit larceny and grand larceny in Virginia is the value of the items stolen.
Typically, if the stolen items have a low monetary value, they fall under the petit larceny category. However, it’s essential to note that in some cases, even if the stolen item has a small value, it may be treated as grand larceny if the items are stolen directly from the person.
This distinction helps in understanding the legal framework of Virginia petit larceny and its consequences upon conviction. Penalties for petit larceny can range can include restitution, fines, and mandatory jail time.
If you are accused of petit larceny in Virginia, it is crucial to seek assistance from a skilled lawyer. Petit larceny attorneys at Scrofano Law, PC, can provide legal guidance and ensure your rights are protected throughout the legal process.
Virginia’s Petit Larceny Statute
Petit larceny is provided for in Virginia Code section 18.2-96. According to this statute, petit larceny is committed when a person:
Takes money or something of value worth less than $5 directly from another person or
Commits simple larceny by taking any goods or animals valued at less than $1,000 but not from the person
When someone commits larceny, they unlawfully take an item directly from a person’s body or belongings, including pickpocketing or snatching belongings like necklaces or wallets. If the stolen property is worth more than $5, it is classified as grand larceny. For instance, even taking an empty wallet valued at $5 or more from someone’s pocket can be considered grand larceny.
It is essential to note that stealing a firearm is automatically classified as grand larceny in Virginia, regardless of the firearm’s monetary value. This underscores the seriousness with which firearm theft is regarded under Virginia law.
Shoplifting is also addressed in Virginia theft laws. Under Virginia Code §18.2-103, shoplifting is defined as “concealing or taking possession of merchandise.” Shoplifting or altering price tags on goods is classified as petit larceny if the merchandise’s value is less than $1,000, but it becomes grand larceny when the value exceeds $1,000.
Seek legal counsel from our team at Scrofano Law, PC, when facing theft-related criminal charges. We can protect your rights and work to get your charges dropped or reduced.
Penalties for Petit Larceny
Penalties for petit larceny and shoplifting offenses vary depending on several elements, including the defendant’s criminal record and the case’s specific circumstances. Generally, petit larceny and shoplifting stolen property valued at less than $1,000 are classified as Class 1 misdemeanors under Virginia larceny statutes.
A Class 1 misdemeanor may carry the following penalties:
Maximum punishment of up to 12 months in jail: Convicted individuals may face a maximum sentence of twelve months in a state correctional facility.
A fine of up to $2,500: In addition to potential jail time, a fine not exceeding $2,500 may be imposed.
Combined penalties: Depending on the case’s specifics, the court can impose both jail time and fines for theft-related offenses.
Additional costs: You may be liable for court costs of the criminal proceedings. If the victim sues you in civil court, you may be liable for damages, court costs, and attorney fees.
Restitution: The court may order you to pay back the value of the stolen goods.
Restrictions: Individuals convicted of shoplifting may also face bans from the premises where the offense occurred.
Long-term consequences: Beyond immediate penalties, a petit larceny conviction on record can have lasting negative effects on future employment opportunities, college prospects, and scholarship opportunities for the convicted individual.
Potential Defenses for Petit Larceny Charges
To secure a conviction for petit larceny in Virginia, the prosecutor must establish certain crucial elements beyond any reasonable doubt. For an individual to be deemed guilty, the prosecutor must prove the following key components of the offense:
Wrongful taking: It must be demonstrated that the accused unlawfully took an item.
Absence of consent: It must be established that the owner did not consent for the accused to take the item.
Intent to deprive: Finally, it must be shown that the accused intended to permanently strip the owner of the item.
When charged with petit larceny in Virginia, several potential defenses can be explored in consultation with your attorney. Your criminal defense lawyer will meticulously examine your case, review all available evidence, and develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your specific situation. Possible defenses in a petit larceny case may include:
Mistaken identity: If there is doubt about the accused’s identity as the perpetrator, this can be a valid defense.
Ownership claim: Demonstrating that the goods in question actually belonged to the defendant can undermine the prosecution’s case.
Proof of payment: Providing evidence that the defendant legitimately paid for the property can be a compelling defense.
Unintentional placement: If someone else placed the merchandise in the defendant’s bag without their knowledge or consent, this can be a strong defense.
Intent to pay: If the defendant can prove that they genuinely intended to pay for the merchandise, this can mitigate their culpability.
Illegal search and seizure: Challenging the legality of how evidence was obtained, such as through an unlawful search and seizure, can result in excluding such evidence from the case.
Petit Larceny Statute of Limitations
The Virginia statute of limitations for criminal offenses sets a time limit for when petit larceny charges can be brought against an individual. The prosecution must bring petit larceny charges against you within five years.
An expired statute of limitations may also be a solid defense strategy.
How Our Team at Scrofano Law PC Can Help You
If you are facing petit larceny charges in Virginia, don’t risk your freedom and financial well-being by opting for self-representation. Scrofano Law, PC, is here to provide the experienced legal counsel you need. Our dedicated team of attorneys understands the intricacies of Virginia’s petit larceny laws and can build a strong defense tailored to your unique circumstances.
Contact Scrofano Law, PC, and let us stand by your side throughout this challenging time. Your future matters, and we’re here to fight for it. Call us now to schedule your free consultation.
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