LARCENY:  There is no general theft statute in Virginia defining the elements of the Crime

Larceny is a common law crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia.    This means that there is generally no specific basis in the statutes defining its meaning.   The court determines the meaning on a case-by-case basis.  When an attorney is hired on a Larceny case, we look to the past court cases and study the developments of law; we learn exactly what has been adjudicated to be defined as the elements of the crime of “Larceny”.   Rules of law have been developed and exceptions have been made.  This is referred to as the study of judicial precedent.  Each time a person is charged with the crime of a Larceny - it is important to hire an attorney who keeps up on the case law.   You want a lawyer who keeps abreast of the meaning and changes in law.   For instance - there have important changes regarding the differences defining between a misdemeanor larceny and felony larceny over the last couple years.   The consequences are quite important to fully learn and understand in order to protect one who has been charged.  Be certain to keep updated on all legal issues. Speak to you lawyer - learn what approaches and strategies to a charge of larceny will best fit your long term goals.

Grand Larceny 18.2-95 (Felony)

Changes in the law:   Prior to the year 2018, simple theft of goods valued at $200.00 or more would be considered to constitute a Grand Larceny.   In 2018, the value was raised to $500.00.   Now, in 2020 - the value was increased to $1000.00 or more.   In 2022 - the value remains $1000.00.

A Grand Larceny is a serious offense.     If convicted of this felony - the defendant can receive up to (20) twenty years in prison…  a $2,500.00 fine.. either or both.   Probation, suspended time over one’s head, fines and court costs.  Failure to comply may result in a Rule to Show Cause, a Capias (arrest warrant), and or a Probation violation.

If you are not a citizen of the United States - the consequences Grand Larceny conviction can be much more serious regarding collateral issues such as obtaining citizenship and or deportation.  Convictions depending on whether misdemeanor or felony, a crime of moral turpitude or not, sentencing, along with other factors should be addressed.    Be familiar with not only the criminal aspects - but seek advise on how all aspects of your life will be affected if your case ends in a Grand Larceny Felony conviction.

Petit Larceny 18.2-96 (Misdemeanor)

A misdemeanor simple larceny is also serious.   But of course - when dealing with the misdemeanor theft of an item or items of lesser value, the consequences usually result in lesser punishment.   This does not mean a defendant will necessarily be off the hook and walk away free of problems.  Depending on the circumstances, a simple larceny can end in a punishment of up to (12) twelve months in jail.   A fine also of $2,500.00.   And collateral long-term effects.

It is crazy - but there are times I am sitting in court with my client, and I observe defendants, without attorney representation,  with this misdemeanor larceny charge - and taking deals while not understanding  the long-term impact it will have on their lives.  Would you try to fix a leak behind the wall of your home without calling a plumber?  Why would you not consider a criminal charge without this type of consideration.  A seasoned criminal defense attorney is important.   You want the best outcome possible.  A criminal conviction can affect education, work, immigration, and general reputation for the rest of your life.  Your dealing with being accused of bad acts and issues revolving around honesty.  Don’t you need people to trust you in the future?

“Larceny from a person or another” or a “Firearm”

When dealing with a larceny (theft) from an “actual person” or a “firearm” - the accused could be faced with felony charge although the value of the items is under $1000.00.   These type of acts where a person can be “hurt” or the involving “theft a weapon” is considered to be aggravating factors.    The circumstances are different versus being caught stealing from a store shelf.   When dealing with a larceny - remember this is a crime that could be considered “a crime involving moral turpitude”.   A conviction can that can hurt your chances to attend certain educational facilities and to maintain the type of employment you seek at present and in the future.   A conviction which may impute dishonesty regarding your person and harm your reputation.

Concealment VA Code 18.2-103 - a form of Larceny

Mercantile Establishment:

In order to convict an accused perpetrator of concealment - the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was willful concealment of merchandise done with the intent to convert the merchandise or defraud a storekeeper (Caselaw).  If a store employee or loss prevention officer sees a person willfully convert goods or merchandise

to his or her own or another’s use - without paying in full or defrauding the rightful owner of the value - the alleged perpetrator may be detained and arrested even if the person has not yet left the premises.  Concealment is often alleged when a shopper is in the store and hides items under the clothing or in a bag or covers the alleged stolen item with another.  It could even be just in the shopping cart or a bag.    In addition, “altering price tags” or other “price markings”, “transferring goods from one container to the other” can be deemed as an element of concealment.  Most stores have cameras.   Willful concealment of goods or merchandise when still present in the store may be considered prima facie evidence of the crime.   The value of the items will determine whether the concealment charge will lead to a misdemeanor or felony charge.    The accused will be charged and if found guilty - the conviction is essentially a “larceny” conviction.  Concealment equals larceny for all essential purposes.  

Remember -   Loss prevention officers are always around the corner.  You would be surprised at the number of arrests for concealment.   This is a crime of dishonesty.  You should hire the best to help navigate you through the court system.

Larceny with the Intent to Distribute (the sale of stolen property).

Va. Code 18.2-108.01:  When a person who commits larceny of goods or merchandise, being valued at $1000.00 or more, having the intent to sell or distribute, the punishment proscribes “not less than two years and up to twenty years”.  An example of this is when some construction workers go to a site and steal copper with the intent at that time to sell and distribute at a later time and make a make a profit.   There is a minimum period of incarceration versus the simple felony larceny.    Both simple grand larceny and grand larceny with intent to sell or distribute have a maximum of twenty years.

Larceny with Intent to Distribute differs from a person who simply sells, or attempts to do so, or possesses with the intent to sell stolen property worth $1000.00 or more when he or she knew or should have known the items were in fact stolen.  An example of this is a person who came into contact with stolen items and attempted to sell.   This type of action would result in a Class 5 felony - which can lead up to (10) years imprisonment.

“Larceny with intent to distribute” is deemed to constitute a distinct and separate offense.

Receiving Stolen Goods - VA Code 18.2-108

When you go out and buy or receive stolen goods, or aid in concealing those items - knowing them to be stolen - this basically constitutes the act of larceny.   And if you are caught committing such an act - you may be punished whether or not the principal offender is found guilty and punished.    

If you are unknowingly part of a police investigation and buy or receive items you believe have been stolen - you may be deemed guilty of “larceny” although the items were not actually stolen.  The fact that you were set up police is not much of a defense.  Entrapment is next to impossible to win.

If you are criminally in receipt of a stolen firearm - this constitutes a Class 6 felony - with a maximum of (5) year confinement.  This Virginia statute was written to deter harm that could emanate from nefarious transactions involving weapons.  

Receiving stolen property involving receipt or transfer of possession of stolen vehicle, aircraft, or boat may lead to a Class (6) felony - unless you are law enforcement performing your law enforcement duties.

Possible evidence:

  • Possession of recent stolen goods
  • DNA on the merchandise
  • A suspect’s efforts to conceal
  • Failure to comply and refusing to identify where stolen merchandise was obtained

Unauthorized use of Animal, Aircraft, Vehicle, or Boat - VA Code Ann. 18.2-102 -  “UUV”

UUV (Unauthorized use of a Vehicle) - The initial possession of an item taken without “exact” permission or consent may be deemed trespassory or consensual. 

Comparison of Larceny and (UUV) Unauthorize use of a Vehicle:

The crime of Larceny under VA Code 18.2-95 (Grand Larceny) and 18.2-96 (Petit Larceny) requires proof of intent to permanently deprive the owner of his or her property prior to or at the time of taking.  For example, if a perpetrator sees a Mercedes in a parking lot, thinks to himself, “mmm I want that vehicle”… he may or may not know the owner but has been given no permission to operate or move the vehicle…..he walks up - the vehicle doors are unlocked - the keys are in the ignition - he drives off….but an hour later….he is bored….he parks the vehicle and walks away.   Under this scenario he may be convicted of a larceny based on the facts and circumstances of the case.  If he had the intent to take the car permanently when he first hopped in - and at that time had no intent to return it - than that could be deemed an “intent to permanently deprive the owner” prior to or at the time of taking.  Doesn’t this seem as though it would be plain simple theft?  Would it still be larceny if he dropped the vehicle off at the place he took it and no one noticed?  What if the act was noticed but late after the fact?

Now, on the other hand, under VA Code Ann. 18.2-102 (unauthorized use) - Let’s say the accused is a guest at his mother-in-laws house.    In the past - the mother-in-law gave him permission to use her vehicle.   But right now - he is at odds with his wife (her daughter).   There is an argument amongst the family members.   He grabs the keys to the vehicle and takes off.   What would this be considered?   Is it a larceny?  Did he have permission to drive the vehicle?  Was there consent?   The accused fails to return to the home and days have gone by.   The family has no other vehicle to drive.  We know at some point he had permission to drive the vehicle.   Did he have that permission on this day when he drove away.   Did he have consent at the time of the taking?   Was consent to drive the vehicle still valid….was it ever revoked…..did the accuse exceed his permission to use the vehicle?    Finally, the police are called.     Law Enforcement finds the accused and the vehicle at his new girlfriend’s home.     Was this theft?   Or was it an unauthorized use of a vehicle?   Was there ever an attempt to abscond with the intent to never return the vehicle to the rightful owners?

When you hire an attorney with years of experience…   Someone who researches the fact pattern of your case….looks to the actual law and its changes….  applies the law to the facts, and determines the best strategies for your situation  - hopefully solid research and the right facts can result in a criminal charge dismissal - but if not - because perhaps there is just too much darn evidence against you- maybe a UUV would be a better alternative to a Larceny.   Learn what to do before your court day to obtain the best outcome.   Hire an attorney with years of practice.  Due diligence and a passion to represent and protect should be sought out when hiring your criminal defense attorney.

Failure of a Bailee to Return a Vehicle  - VA Code Ann. 18.2-117

People lease vehicles all the time.   When you walk into the auto leasing company - you sign a contract regarding the price and the length of time for the lease of rental.    If a person comes into possession of the vehicle as a bailee and fails to the return the car to the rental agency as according to the agreement - the lessee may be charged with unlawful taking.    

Here is some good advice - return the car in the same condition and on time!  If not - criminal charges may be headed your way!  This is not simply a civil matter.

VA Code Ann. 18.2-181 Issuing Bad Checks may be considered “Larceny”

It is definitely against the law to issue bad checks with intent to defraud.  Doing so can result in a Felony or Misdemeanor depending on the circumstances.  

Felony bad check(s) - Generally - the Prosecution must show the following:

  1. That the perpetrator made, drew, uttered (passed), and or delivered a draft, check,

order of payment of monies to some type of banking institution, trust company, and or depository.

  1. He or she knew there were insufficient funds at the time of the act.
  2. The action was taken with intent to defraud.
  3. The item was in the amount of $1,000.00 or more.
  4. The item was in payment as a present consideration for goods or service.

If convicted of passing bad checks under this statute - a defendant could serve up to (5) five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,500.00.

Embezzlement VA Code Ann. 18.2-111

When this attorney has spoken with probation officers and other court personnel dealing with post-conviction larceny type of charges, the most difficult for these defendants to deal with in the future is embezzlement.    Embezzlement deals with defrauding a person who placed you in a position of trust.     If you want education and employment in the future - you need to hire the best to resolve your legal problems involving embezzlement issues.

Embezzlement (Felony charge):

  • (1) That the defendant wrongfully and fraudulently converted to his own use or to the use of another; used; disposed of; concealed (property) with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the use thereof; and
  • (2) That the property was received by the defendant for another; for his principal; for his employer; for his bailor; by virtue of his office; trust; employment; entrusted or delivered to the defendant by another; a court; a corporation; a company; and
  • (3) That the property value was $1,000 or more.

 What is it and how does it differ from simple larceny?

Embezzlement unlike “simple larceny” is a statutory defined crime.   This means the elements of the crime are essentially explained in the statute.  Remember this is different than simple larceny which is based on common law and defined on a case-by-case basis through the courts.    


Now, Embezzlement is similar to larceny with one major distinction - embezzlement involves a conversion of property with the owner’s consent.   Larceny deals more with a trespassory taking of property.

Mental element of the crime of embezzlement 

  • “Fraudulent purpose to deprive owner of property and to appropriate”. This statement is derived from case law.
  • Wrongful appropriation for own use or benefit…others…with intent to deprive the rightful owner, with the property entrusted to him or her by reason of certain trust relationships. Case law.

Va Code Ann. Section 18.2-112 emphasizes the conversion of property 

“By someone in a position of trust who, by virtue of their position, exercises control over the property converted or has custody of the property. Ratliff v. Commonwealth, 20 Va. App. 43, 455 S.E.2d 259, 1995 Va. App. LEXIS 270 (1995).”

CREDIT CARD theft.  18.2-192

There are individuals who get involved with theft and use of stolen credit cards.   Often in these types of situations when they are caught - they are slapped with a whole slew of charges.  One being Credit Card Theft.  Others may involve forgery, obtaining goods by false pretenses, and uttering.    These charges can land one with years of incarceration and restitution to be paid back to victims.   Seizure of personal assets.   And a “Dishonesty” label for the rest of one’s life.   That may be difficult especially if you wind up on probation and have severe limitations on your life.   It is difficult enough without a criminal record making it day to day.

Factors to consider:

  • Did the defendant obtain, take, withhold a credit card/credit card number from

another; take possession; custody; control of the victim’s credit card or information?

      (2)  Did the defendant received a credit card, a credit card number from another knowing that it had been obtained; taken; withheld from another; from their possession; custody; control?

      (3) Did the defendant received a credit card or credit card number knowing the same to have been lost; mislaid; delivered under a mistake as to the (the victim ie. owner of the cardholder) and retained possession?

     (4) Did the taking; obtaining; withholding; receiving occur without the consent of the cardholder?

     (5) Was the taking, obtaining, withholding, receiving with intent to use, to sell, to transfer to a person other than the issuer or the cardholder?

     (6) How many times did this occur during the past (12) month period?

When you are in trouble and being investigated or charged with a Crime of Dishonesty…Call Attorney Sheryl Shane.