Learn about Theft (Larceny) Charges in Virginia

A theft conviction will have long-lasting consequences on your life.  Because theft deals with “lying, cheating, or stealing,” it constitutes a “crime of moral turpitude,” which potential educators, employers, and the law do not take lightly. 

If you’ve been charged, you need to learn how Virginia treats larceny charges.

What’s the difference between Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny?

The main difference is that Petit Larceny is a Class I Misdemeanor whereas Grand Larceny is a Felony.  While a Misdemeanor is serious (you can face up to a year in jail and a fine of $2,500), a Felony can extinguish many of your basic civil rights, such as the right to vote and possess firearms.   What’s more, a Grand Larceny conviction carries with it a possible prison sentence of twenty years. 

How do I know if I’m facing a Petit Larceny or a Grand Larceny Charge?

Sadly, Virginia is pretty backwards when it comes to the threshold of a charge being bumped from a Petit to a Grand Larceny charge. 

Petit Larceny is defined as:

  1. Taking from a person of another money or other thing of value less than $5; or
  2. Taking not from the person of another goods or chattel less than $200.

Grand Larceny is defined as:

  1. Taking from a person of another money or thing valued at $5 or more; or
  2. Taking not from a person of another of goods and chattel of the value of $200 or more. 

Stated another way, if your theft involved taking money (or an item) directly from a person worth $5 or more or stealing money or an item $200 or more, you’ll be facing a Felony Grand Larceny charge.

When reading this, think about the value of items today. Many clothes exceed $200.  Many electronics exceed $200.  It’s an amazingly low threshold value.  But in reality it’s the law.  It’s that simple.

Will I go to jail for my Larceny Charge?

Whether or not you’ll actually do jail time (or significant jail time) depends on a lot of variables.  These include what thing you’re alleged to have stolen, how you were alleged to have taken it, your records, the desire of the owner of the item taken, and the particular prosecutor and judge in your case.  Not all charges will result in jail time.  Some will.  It really depends on the facts of your case. 

I was charged with a Felony. To break it down to a Misdemeanor, they want me to serve jail time. That’s Crazy, right?! 

One common situation that I’ve come across is where an accused is charged with a felony, and the prosecutor offers to amend the charge to a misdemeanor if the accused is willing to serve a jail sentence.  Whether this is a good offer will depend on the facts of each case.  Things to consider are the strength of the allegations against the accused, the accused’s record, etc.

That said, a Felony conviction is a very serious matter.  If you’re a “Felon” there will be very serious roadblocks in the future.  Many employment and housing opportunities will be threatened.  You’ll lose basis civil rights (such as voting or owing a firearm). 

In any situation where you’re facing a felony, there’s simply no excuse to obtain the assistance of an attorney.  If you can’t afford one, ask for a Court Appointed attorney. 

They offered me a Deferred Finding. If I take it, can I get the charge expunged later? 

If you’re charged with a Misdemeanor Petit Larceny, many jurisdictions offer First Time Offender Programs, where the charge will be deferred for a period of time, and later dismissed upon your completion of various requirements.  In many circumstances, a “deferred finding” is a very good result.  However, for people with tangible defenses for their charge, a deferred finding may not be the deal that it’s cracked up to be.

Keep in mind, in Virginia, deferred findings are generally not expungeable.  That means that even if the charge is later dismissed, you cannot erase the arrest record.  Therefore, it will still show up on criminal record checks.

Additionally, if you don’t comply with the requirements of the deferred finding, you may still be convicted.  While many will easily complete the deferred finding requirements, others may have difficulty. 

Conclusion

What this boils down to is that if you’re charged with a larceny charge, be it a misdemeanor or a felony, do yourself a favor and call an attorney.  It will be one of the best investments you can make for your future.

For more questions about Virginia Larceny charges, give BenGlassLaw a call.  

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