Have you been charged with a larceny type of crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia? If so, you need to hire a lawyer who has years of experience in the courtroom, someone who is not only familiar with trial procedure but is also very knowledgeable about what course of action you should take prior to court in order to help your case. Not only are the facts and the laws regarding guilt and innocence important to discuss with your attorney…but if the prosecution has a solid case against you…for instance a video of you stealing an item along with your own admissions and more…you ought to provide your lawyer with tools to negotiate so you can achieve a better outcome for yourself. It may be possible for you to obtain a deferred finding and walk away with a dismissal. But before you attempt to do so -it is so very important that you have an attorney who explains the procedures and consequences to you personally. Each client has their own set of goals when dealing with a criminal charge involving dishonesty. Be certain to cover all angle especially immigration consequences tied to these crimes. Don’t just settle with walking into court and accepting any offer given. Think ten steps ahead.
Property Crimes involving Dishonesty
Grand Larceny – Va. Code Ann.§ 18.2-95
Petit Larceny – Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-96
Concealment – Va. Code Ann § 18.2-103
Unauthorize Use of a Vehicle § 18.2-102
Receiving Stolen Goods Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-108
Intent to Sell or Distribute Stolen Property - Va. Code Ann § 18.2-108.01
Embezzlement – Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-111
Grand Larceny and Petty Larceny
Grand Larceny is when a person takes something of value against the will of the rightful owner and carries it away without consent. Prior to or at the time of the act there must be an intent to steal. For the charge to be a Felony Grand Larceny – the value of the item must be ($500.00) five hundred dollars or more, unless the theft involves a direct taking from a person.
A taking from a person means that the accused took property from another and the victim was either touching it or had it under his or her control. When the taking is from a person- the value of the property need only amount to $5.00 to be a Felony Grand Larceny. The maximum punishment for Grand Larceny is (20) years imprisonment and a fine of $2,500.00. If the value cannot be proven, then one may be charged under the Petty Larceny statute which is only a class (1) misdemeanor for the first and second convictions. A class (1) misdemeanor can amount to up to a year in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.00. When a Defendant is convicted of a Petty Larceny and it is the third offense – the conviction is a Class (6) felony which means there is a maximum imprisonment period of (5) five years and a fine of up to $2,500.00.
- A person can be convicted of Larceny in situations where he or she is not the primary actor in the crime. For instance, If someone is caught aiding and abetting the person actually committing the unlawful taking by acting as a lookout…this person may also be found guilty of Larceny
- When a party has exclusive possession of recently stolen items, there may be a presumption of guilt. When there is joint possession – evidence must be shown that the accused exercised dominion and control over it or at least consciously demonstrated some possessory right.
- In order to obtain a conviction for Grand Larceny – the prosecution must prove the value of the item. But for a Petit Larceny – it must only be shown the item has some value.
- One possible defense to Larceny is when a party has a good faith belief that the property taken belongs to him or her.
Concealment is a type of larceny. It is when a person conceals merchandise in a store without having authority to do so. The person is stealing by converting the goods to his or her own without paying full price and defrauding the mercantile establishment. Just as in Grand Larceny – if the value of the item(s) stolen equal ($500.00) five hundred or more, the punishment is up to (20) years and a fine of up to $2,500.00 maximum. A misdemeanor class (1) concealment is treated just like a petty larceny regarding punishment.
- The prosecution is permitted to use price tags to show value rather than live testimony as far as hearsay evidence goes at trial involving concealment. But the defense has a chance to keep the evidence out based on the Best Evidence Rule.
- Opinion evidence regarding value may be admissible in trial instead of expert testimony.
- The original value of stolen item may be taken into account as evidence when the stolen item was not new at time of unlawful taking, but allowance should be made by the Court for the item’s depreciation.
Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle (UUV) – Permanent versus Temporary Taking
An unauthorized use of a vehicle is similar to a general larceny. Only it involves the taking, driving, or use of a vehicle, animal, boat, aircraft, or some type of vessel with the intent to temporarily deprive the owner in an unlawful manner. In addition, if consent was given on a prior occasion to use the item but was not continuing, the accused can still be found guilty of the crime. A UUV can be either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the item.
In order for the prosecution to win a Felony Class 6 – they must prove that the item was worth five hundred dollars ($500.00) or more. Otherwise the conviction can only stand as a misdemeanor.
An example of an unauthorized use is of a vehicle is when (2) people are dating and one partner gives the key of the car to the other to run some errands. The key is never collected back. Let’s say the two split up as a couple and a few days later, the non-owner of the vehicle borrows the car without permission. The intent is not to steal the vehicle from the owner, only to borrow. This is an authorized use.
- One can be found guilty of Unauthorize used by simply assisting in the crime.
- If a person takes another person’s car without permission and abandons it – the Court may deem it larceny rather than a UUV since there is no intent to return it.
- A felony UUV conviction is a lesser crime than Grand Larceny. There is a (5) year cap on a UUV felony whereas the Grand Larceny – one can serve up to (20) years in the penitentiary.
Receiving Stolen Property
It is against the law for a purchaser with dishonest intent to buy goods previously stolen by another when he or she knew the items were stolen. The punishment for this crime is a felony and a possible sentence of up to (20) years and a maximum fine of ($2,500.00) twenty-five hundred dollars.
- The prosecution must prove items previously stolen by another, that the accused purchased from another or aided in concealment, and knew when he obtained property it was stolen, and acted with dishonest intent.
- A party may be convicted on this charge although the primary offender is not convicted.
- If a person buys goods believing them to be stolen in the course of a criminal investigation, although they are not stolen because of part of a police sting, the party may be found guilty of larceny.
- Mere presence and subsequent flight may not be enough to show intent to commit the crime.
Intent to Sell or Distribute Stolen Property
It is illegal to steal with the intent to sell and distribute. When an individual is caught with more than one stolen item of the same product in his presence, there is a presumption that it was intended to be sold and or distributed. The Defense does have an opportunity to overcome the presumption at trial. The punishment for this crime will be not less than (2) years and not more than (20) years imprisonment and a fine.
- A person who just sells or attempts to sell or possesses with intent to sell items which he should have known were stolen and the goods have an aggregate value of $500.00 or more and the person is charged with this crime, he can face a up to (10) years in jail under a class (5) felony.
- The Commonwealth may charge and punish an individual with both larceny and larceny with intent to sell or distribute separately.
- Being a driver of the car while others are committing the crime can end in a conviction for you also.
- Imprisonment can be time which is actually served or suspended. Mandatory time cannot be suspended. There is no mandatory jail or prison time with this crime.
Embezzlement – Unlawfully Converting Property for own use rather than Trespassing against Property
In order to convict an accused of embezzlement, the following elements must be proved:
- Property was received by the accused for his employer, a principal, a bailor or by virtue of trust, office, or employment, or
- Delivered to the accused by another, a company, corporation, court, and
- There was a wrongful and fraudulent conversion, use, disposal, or concealment of property,
- And the intent was to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the property.
If the property is worth $500.00 or more a conviction will be a felony. If less the result is a misdemeanor.
Embezzlement differs from Larceny in that with Embezzlement - consent may given by the owner and than the criminal taking occurs afterwards. Whereas in a general larceny charge – the perpetrator can simply trespasses without permission from the owner. For instance, when an employee steals from a store during work hours and either pockets the money or gives to friends when they visit…this would be embezzlement. The employee was in a position of trust and broke it by unlawful taking. Now, when adults or kids enter a store andtake things which do not belong to them and leave without paying…this is done by larceny or concealment.
Although the punishment for embezzlement is the same as larceny, the distinction is important because the Courts tend to punish embezzlers more harshly than those who steal generally. Also, if convicted of embezzlement – it will probably be much more difficult to obtain a job in the future.
Call The Law Offices of Sheryl Shane if charged with Property Crimes. An attorney who will work hard to discover what provable facts exist, what type of witnesses observed the alleged crime, whether physical evidence is present such as videotapes and photographs, whether the loss prevention officer or police used unconstitutional means to gain confessions. These are all important consideration and can affect your ability to maintain employment and receive financial aid and scholarships for school. The quicker you seek sound legal advice ...the better.
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