Shoplifting and Petit Larceny in Virginia

Larceny or shoplifting items of small value can still result in criminal charges in Virginia. Even stealing a candy bar could result in a criminal record that can follow you for years. Before pleading guilty to any crime, you should talk to a lawyer about your rights.

If you were arrested and charged with petit larceny or shoplifting in Virginia, contact an experienced Charlottesville criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A criminal conviction can lead to a permanent record, and impact your future opportunities.

Petit Larceny and Shoplifting Crimes in Virginia

Petty theft is known as “petit larceny” in Virginia. The difference between petit larceny and grand larceny is based on the value of items involved. However, theft from a person could be treated as grand larceny, even if the item was of little value.

Petit Larceny Statute in Virginia

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-96, any person who:

  1. Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of less than $5, or
  2. Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of less than $1000 shall be deemed guilty of petit larceny, which shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Theft of a firearm is considered grand larceny, no matter what the value of the firearm is.

Larceny from a person involves taking something off the person's body or belongings. This could be pickpocketing, taking something out of someone's purse or backpack, or snatching a necklace. If the item is worth $5 or more, then larceny from a person is grand larceny. Taking an empty wallet from someone's pocket could be grand larceny if the wallet was worth $5 or more.

Shoplifting Statute in Virginia

Shoplifting in Virginia is considered “concealing or taking possession of merchandise.” Under Virginia Code § 18.2-103, it is larceny for anyone, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own use without having paid full price, to

  • willfully conceal or take possession of store goods,
  • alter the price tag on goods or merchandise, or
  • assist another in performing the above acts.

Shoplifting or price tag altering is petit larceny if the value of the goods or merchandise is less than $1000. Shoplifting is grand larceny if the value of the goods or merchandise involved is $1000 or more.

Penalties for Petit Larceny and Shoplifting in Virginia

Petit larceny and shoplifting items valued at less than $1000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. The penalties for a conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor include:

  • Up to 12 months in jail,
  • Fine of up to $2,500, or
  • Both.

Petit Larceny and Shoplifting Defenses

There may be a number of defenses available if you are charged with petit larceny in Virginia. Talk to your attorney about the best defenses in your case. Your criminal defense lawyer will investigate the case and review all the evidence to build a strong defense. Possible defenses may include

  • mistaken identification,
  • the goods belonged to the defendant,
  • the defendant paid for the property,
  • another person put the merchandise in the defendant's bag,
  • the defendant intended to pay for the merchandise, or
  • illegal search and seizure.

Charlottesville Larceny Defense Lawyer

Petit Larceny and shoplifting may seem like a minor offense, but any criminal conviction can leave you with a criminal record. You may have a stronger case than you think. If you or a loved one was arrested in Charlottesville, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about how to fight criminal charges and keep a clean record. Contact me today for a free consultation.

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