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What is Larceny in Virginia?

Larceny as a concept is very broad in Virginia. It includes property based crimes, it also includes the taking of someone else’s property or obtaining property that doesn’t belong to you or converting property. Crimes that are considered larceny offenses include shoplifting, embezzlement, and obtaining money or services by false pretenses. These all fall in the larger umbrella of larceny.

What Are Some of The Main Differences in Those Charges?

At the criminal code level, different types of larceny offenses contain an element that the others do not. In the real world scenario, the various offenses cover all variety of human interaction and illegal transactions. For example, the crime of embezzlement occurs when the parties have a certain relationship to one another (typically the accused is in a position of trust with the victim or is an employee of the victim or has access or otherwise has lawful access to property) and they then take advantage of that relationship to convert funds.

One of the things that comes up in an embezzlement context is someone having lawful access to their funds or property and then using it in an unlawful context.

False pretenses is when someone obtains something willfully but under a fraudulent or material misrepresentation of facts or circumstances to obtain that.

Shoplifting of course is when someone obtains goods that are for sale without paying for them. And the more common law type of larceny to include burglary, when someone obtains property that simply does not, they have no right to obtain and no claim to obtain it without the permission of the property owner.

Is Shoplifting Different From Larceny in Virginia?

Shoplifting is a larceny offense in Virginia and it is found in Virginia Code Section 18.2-111. That specific code section it basically says what shoplifting is and how it’s punished.  The penalties for shoplifting mirror those for petit and grand larceny and, thus, it is considered a larceny offense.

What Are Some of The Other Laws Concerning Shoplifting?

Well, one of the things we are concerned about is that shoplifting can be either petit larceny meaning the value of the items is under the $200 threshold and it is considered a misdemeanor, or it can be grand larceny when the value exceeds $200.

Are The Penalties for a Shoplifting Conviction Different Than a Larceny Conviction?

No, they’re the same. If it is petit larceny, it’s a class 1 misdemeanor of up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500.  And if it’s a grand larceny offense, which is an unclassified felony in Virginia, the punishment for grand larceny is 1-20 years in the state penitentiary or in the court’s discretion up to 12 months in jail and/or up to a fine of $2500.

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