Prince William County Theft Lawyer
If you have been accused of – or charged with – any theft, you may want to retain an experienced Prince William County theft lawyer to minimize the impact these charges can have on your future and your freedom. The Commonwealth of Virginia prosecutes many theft crimes that range from misdemeanor offenses like shoplifting to more serious crimes, such as robbery, burglary, and identity theft. The punishments for these crimes depend on circumstances such as the type and value of the property stolen, and the manner in which the suspect acquired the item(s).
Theft-related crimes can include:
- Unauthorized use of vehicle
- Identity theft
Common Theft Offenses in Virginia
Robbery: The Virginia Code basically defines robbery as the act of forcibly taking another person’s property, the victim fears the threat of some kind of violence if he or she doesn’t comply. The victim does not have to own the property, just possess it (or have the legal right to it). Depending on the circumstances of the case, and the prosecution’s ability to prove both the theft and victim’s fear of imminent harm, a robbery conviction carries a sentence of five years to life.
Burglary: Virginia views burglary as a combination of theft (or attempted theft) and breaking and entering, with an intent to steal property or commit murder, rape, or arson. The base burglary charge is a class 3 felony that carries up to a $100,000 fine and/or five to 20 years in prison. If a person commits burglary while carrying a firearm, the charge is raised to a class 2 felony – with a minimum sentence of 20 years and up to life in prison. Breaking and entering to commit a violent crime (such as rape, arson, kidnapping, or murder) makes it aggravated burglary, and penalties for those crimes increase the chances of a life sentence. And if capital murder was committed, the death penalty may be in play.
Unauthorized Use of Vehicle: Though typically referred to as “carjacking,” the victim may have been given permission to borrow the vehicle in the past. Commonwealth Criminal Code states that the present intent of both parties, and whether they had authority to use the vehicle at the time of the offense, determines whether this charge is filed. Sometimes, failure to return a rented vehicle can produce a charge, which is punishable by 15 years to life. If there are underlying felony charges (robbery, assault or use of a weapon), penalties for those crimes can be added to the “unauthorized use” sentence.
Identity Theft: When a suspect unlawfully (without permission) obtains a person’s bank account number, social security number, driver’s license number, computer passwords, or any other personal information that can be used to access a person’s financial information, they may be charged with identity theft. Punishment can range from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 5 or class 6 Felony, depending on the specific circumstances of the theft. Credit card theft is also treated as grand larceny in the Commonwealth, regardless of the value of the card that is stolen, or even if it was not used to commit subsequent thefts.
Embezzlement: A person is guilty of embezzlement when they knowingly steal money or goods from the victim who entrusted the perpetrator with the property. Embezzlement penalties are treated like traditional thefts: property valued at $200 or under is a misdemeanor, and over $200 is a felony. Many “white-collar crimes” have an embezzlement component to them, and penalties for additional theft offenses or accompanying felonies might be added upon conviction.
Intent to sell stolen property: Prosecutors treat the sale of stolen goods as either a separate offense or use this charge to “upgrade” other theft offenses to more serious crimes – especially if the theft is originally a misdemeanor. Suspects often claim they had no idea the items they sold were stolen. Stand-alone intent-to-sell charges are a class 5 felony, even if a person just ”holds” the property and does not sell it – or if the person who stole the property is not convicted of theft.
Hiring a Prince William County Theft Lawyer
If you have been charged with any theft crime in Prince William County, contact our team to arrange a free consultation with a Prince William County theft attorney, who will give your case the attention it deserves and share the best defenses that can protect your rights and freedom.