Fairfax Theft Lawyer
Theft crimes are some of the most commonly-charged offenses in Fairfax and they range in severity from misdemeanors to serious felonies. Virginia statutes do not generally use the term theft but refer to theft offenses as larceny, robbery or burglary. The circumstances involved determine the severity of the crime, so where the amount involved is higher or if physical contact is involved, the penalties are greater. Even a conviction for a “petty” larceny or another misdemeanor theft crime creates a criminal record that can affect employment, housing and other areas of life, so anyone facing theft charges should consider speaking with a Fairfax theft lawyer who can create a solid defense against the charges. Call and schedule an appointment with a dedicated criminal defense attorney to start developing a valid legal defense strategy.
What Constitutes Petit Larceny in Virginia
Larceny is generally considered to be the taking of property belonging to another without the use or threat of violence. The act must be intentional.
The crime is considered petit (pronounced like “petty”) larceny if the value of the property taken is less than $500 or if the property is taken directly from the body of another (such as in pickpocketing), when the property is worth less than $5. (Va. Code Ann. §18.2-96.) However, if the property taken by theft is a firearm, the offense will always be considered grand larceny.
Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. However, if the individual involved has prior larceny convictions in any other jurisdiction, the penalties increase and the offense may be treated as a felony. (Va. Code Ann. 18.2-104.)
Grand Larceny is a Felony Offense
Where the value of the property taken is worth $500 or more, or is taken directly from someone’s body and is worth $5 or more, the crime is considered grand larceny. Penalties for this offense include a sentence of up to 20 years in prison as well as a fine. (Va. Code Ann. §18.2-95.)
Virginia Statutes Defined Additional Larceny Offenses
In addition to grand and petit larceny, the Virginia code contains numerous provisions prohibiting larceny involving specific commodities. For instance, Section 18.2-97 makes it a felony offense to take certain animals including dogs, goats, and poultry. Section 18.2-103 prohibits actions traditionally considered to be shoplifting, such as altering price tags, concealing merchandise and switching containers. And Section 18.2-102.1 prohibits removing a shopping cart from the premises of store property while Section 18.2-102.2 outlaws the unauthorized use of milk crates.
In addition, Virginia statutes also provide consequences for conspiracy to commit larceny, receiving or concealing stolen goods, and selling stolen goods. Those found guilty are generally treated as if they had directly committed larceny of the property, so the value affects the potential penalties. Someone facing a potential theft conviction should consider consulting with a Fairfax theft lawyer immediately.
Robbery and Burglary Combine Larceny With Other Offenses
Robbery usually involves theft of property through the use of violence or the threat of violence “putting a person in fear of serious bodily harm.” Displaying a firearm or other deadly weapon is sufficient to make a theft into a robbery. (Va. Code Ann. §18.2-58.) The statutory penalty for robbery in Virginia includes a minimum prison sentence of five years which can extend up to a life sentence.
Statutory burglary is an offense that combines unauthorized entry into someone’s home (breaking and entering) with an intent to commit larceny or certain other felony offenses. This crime is treated as a felony and penalties are more severe if the person charged was carrying a deadly weapon at the time of the offense.
Contacting a Fairfax Theft Attorney
Those facing charges involving any theft crime in Fairfax are advised to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to learn how to protect their rights and avoid taking actions or making statements that could prove harmful to the case. The sooner a theft lawyer begins working on the case, the easier it is to collect and preserve evidence to build a strong defense. If you have been charged with larceny, robbery, burglary or any similar offense, contact a Fairfax theft lawyer now to start working toward the best possible resolution of your case.