Attorneys at Virginia Criminal Attorney are experienced in defending property theft charges, specifically grand larceny charges, for clients around Fairfax and Northern Virginia. Our criminal defense attorneys will analyze your case to establish the possible defense strategy that could get your grand larceny charges dismissed. A plea bargain is also effective in reducing this felony crime to a misdemeanor like petit larceny.
Legal Definition of Grand Larceny in Virginia
Grand larceny, according to Virginia Code 18.2-95, is the act of taking property whose value is five (5) dollars and above from someone’s person. ‘From someone’s person is mostly referred to as ‘direct taking' of items. The crime also involves indirectly taking of personal property that is worth five hundred (500) dollars and above. Theft of a firearm is also grand larceny regardless of the value of the firearm.
Shoplifting can also result in grand larceny charges in Virginia. This, however, applies if the items you are accused of shoplifting have the value of five hundred (500) dollars and above as required by Virginia Code 18.2-103, otherwise known as the “Shoplifting Law”.
If you committed theft with the intent to resell the stolen item, you would also face grand larceny charges. The prosecution must show that the stolen items have appeared elsewhere or you ended up repackaging them into a distributable manner.
Apart from engaging in the actual stealing, you can be charged with grand larceny if the prosecution confirms that you, in any way, participated in stealing the item in question. This includes instances where you did not directly take it; for instance, if you aided the perpetrators by transporting or keeping the stolen items. You can also face similar charges if you act as a lookout during the incident.
The most significant element of grand larceny is the proof that the items taken have a value exceeding 5 dollars or 500 dollars, depending on whether you took the items directly or indirectly from a person. Furthermore, there must be proof that the item in question was not yours, you took it without the owner’s consent, and you had a view of permanently depriving the person of the ownership.
What Type of An Offense is Grand Larceny in Virginia?
In Virginia, grand larceny is usually treated as a felony. However, depending on the prosecutors’ discretion, the offense can be viewed as a misdemeanor but only if the accused has no history of crime or the value of the alleged stolen property is slightly above five hundred (500) dollars.
Charges Related to Grand Larceny in Virginia
There are various criminal charges in Virginia which you can be charged with instead of or alongside grand larceny. Understanding them is important as it can help you to plead for a charge whose penalties are lighter. Some of these charges include:
- Virginia Code 18.2-58; robbery. Committing robbery by strangling, suffocating, beating, striking, or using any form of violence against a person is an offense under Virginia Code 18.2-58. It is also an offense to rob a person by subjecting him or her to fear of suffering bodily injury, or by presenting deadly weapons like firearms. Robbery is a felony whose punishment involves no less than five years imprisonment and up to life confinement in the state correctional facility.
- Virginia Code 18.2-96; petit larceny. Petit larceny involves stealing directly money or items worth five (5) dollars and below or indirectly stealing someone’s property with a value that is less than five hundred (500) dollars. Petit larceny is a class one (1) misdemeanor whose punishment include a jail term not exceeding twelve (12) months, a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred (2,500) dollars, or both the fines and jail term.
- Virginia Code 18.2- 108.01; larceny with intent to distribute or sell. You are charged with this offense if you steal items whose value is two hundred (200) dollars and below with intention of distributing or reselling them. The prosecution must confirm that you stole two or more items that are identical; this is a prima facie (primary evidence) that you intended to resell or distribute them. This offense is a felony and its punishment includes no less than two (2) years and a maximum of twenty (20) years in a correctional facility.
- Virginia Code 18.2-102; use of an animal, vehicle, or aircraft without permission. It is illegal to take, drive, or even make use of animal, automobile, a plane, any vessels used in water that does not belong to you, without the consent of the owner, and with the intention of depriving the owner of the ownership temporarily. The charge applies even if you did not have the intent to steal the items. Upon conviction of the offense, you are subject to class six (6) felony penalties that include up to six (6) years in jail. You may also incur a fine of two thousand five hundred (2,500) dollars if the value of the animal, vehicle or the aircraft is above five hundred (500) dollars. If the value of the mentioned item or animal is below five hundred (00) dollars, the offense is a class one misdemeanor. Consequently, the penalties involve a jail term of twelve months and a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred (2,500) dollars.
- Virginia Code 18.2-97; larceny of individual animals and poultry. Certain types of animals and poultry are held dearly by different people and often take them as part of their families. Some of these animals include dogs, foxes, and birds like chicken and ducks. Virginia code 18.2-97 makes it a crime to steal such animals. This offense carries class five felony penalties that include one to ten years in prison. However, the value of the alleged stolen animal should be above five hundred (500) dollars for these punishments to apply. If the value of the animal or poultry is less than 500 hundred (500) dollars, the offense is a class six (6) felony whose penalties include a prison term of one to five years.
- Virginia code 18.2-98; theft of bank note, checks, or books of accounts. Under Virginia code 18.2-98, it is a crime to steal any form of money including bank notes, checks, or written papers of any value that represent money. It is also a crime to take books of account that pertain to goods or money that is yet to be delivered. Depending on the value of the alleged stolen money or bank papers, you face either grand larceny or petit larceny charges. Petit larceny applies if the value is less than 500 dollars, and the penalties are twelve months in jail and a fine not exceeding 2,500 dollars. Grand larceny charges apply if the value is at least 500 dollars and its penalties are one to twenty years in prison.
What are the Penalties of Grand Larceny in Virginia?
The penalties for grand larceny charges differ depending on various factors such as the criminal history of the accused and circumstances of the case.
Grand larceny is a felony. It carries a minimum of one year and a maximum of twenty years in prison. You may also incur a fine not exceeding 2,500 dollars. The judge may opt to reduce the penalties to a jail term of twelve months. Such leniency, however, only occurs when the case was not tried before a panel of adjudicators. It also applies when you have no criminal history or if the property or item you are alleged to have stolen is slightly above 500 dollars.
The court may also order you to pay restitution fees aimed at compensating the alleged victim for the damages or any monetary loss suffered as a result of your actions. However, restitution may not apply when the stolen property is returned to the owner unchanged.
If you have had a prior conviction, whether a misdemeanor or a felony in Virginia or any other state, you are subjected to compulsory confinement of thirty days and not more than twelve months on top of any penalties given.
The law allows you to plea bargain for your grand larceny charges to avoid the grand larceny penalties. Consequently, the charges may be reduced to such misdemeanors as petit larceny or shoplifting. You are better positioned to win the plea bargain if you have ever served in the military.
Grand larceny charges remain in your criminal records for life, and there is no way you can expunge yourself from the record. In return, it can negatively impact on your future life endeavors like job opportunities, scholarships, vacation, rights to vote, and right to own guns (among other privileges).
Legal Defenses against Grand Larceny Charges in Virginia
Being charged with grand larceny in Virginia is overwhelming and its consequences can be long-lasting. Getting a skilled attorney is vital to help reduce the severity of the penalties or have the charges entirely dismissed. The attorney can use the following defense strategies to argue out your case:
- Lack of Intent to steal. If, while shopping in a store or any merchandise, you were obstructed by things like mobile phone calls, an unruly child, or an alarm outside and you walked out with the merchandise without paying, your attorney can argue that you did not intend to commit the offense. In short, this defense strategy can apply if you committed the crime in any situation that reasonably shows that you were forced or unknowingly committed the crime.
- Consent from the owner. If you have a strong belief that the owner of the alleged stolen item had permitted you to take their items, your attorney can argue that there was consent. A situation like this could arise when a person accuses you of theft even if they consented due to such evils like malice and revenge. You may provide any record (such as written agreements or communication between you and the complainant) to show that you took the items with their permission.
- Mistaken identity. If the alleged perpetrator wore an outfit or mask, the victim is required to use other physical identification factors such as walking styles, posture, and height to establish the identity of the perpetrator. In such cases, the victim may end up mistaking you with another person. Thus, your attorney can argue that you are mistakenly accused of the offense that you did not commit. This argument can also apply if the alleged victim had never met you before and was unable to clearly recognize you due to poor lighting conditions during the incident that made them unable to see your clear image. To add to the doubt, the attorney can use a series of photos and demand that the victim identify you; failure to correctly identify your photo may qualify you as a mistakenly identified person. The attorney can also demand the arresting officers or the prosecution to conduct forensic tests by using DNA analysis or fingerprints gathered at the scene. In the case that the forensic results do not match your information, it is likely that a mistaken identity defense will be successful.
- Abandonment. If the items you took lay beside the road or alongside trash, you may have taken them with the belief that they belonged to nobody. Under such circumstances, your attorney can convince the judge that you acquired the items with the belief that somebody had intentionally abandoned them and that you were not stealing them. No person can, in their right mind, allege that you stole their property if it reasonably appeared abandoned.
- Duress. If you committed the offense under pressure from another person, with threats of death or bodily injury, your attorney could claim that you acted under duress. An example of duress is when someone points a gun at you and demands that you take some items, leaving you with no option other than to comply. Usually, people with authority or law enforcement officers are the ones who are capable of executing such threats and forcing you to commit a crime.
- Mental disease. If upon psychiatric examination by a psychologist or forensic psychiatrist, it is established that you were not mentally fit during the incident, your attorney can refute the charges on the grounds of mental insanity. Mental insanity means that you were unable to formulate the intent to engage in grand larceny or your mental state made you not understand the type, magnitude, and possible consequences of the offense you committed. Your mental state could have also made you unable to act as required by the law (for example, calling the police to report the incident).
Your attorney can also challenge all the facts presented by the prosecution because they do not match with the actual elements of the crime of grand larceny. In some situations, the court will not be able to prove each of them beyond a reasonable doubt. For instance, the attorney can raise substantial doubts on the alleged value of the property stolen or even refute that you were the one who took the property. Alternatively, the attorney can argue that the items were yours and that you did not steal them. All these defense strategies apply depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the facts presented by the prosecutor.
Common Concerns for Grand Larceny in Virginia
- What is the statute of limitations for grand larceny charges in Virginia?
Felony charges in Virginia are not subject to a limitation period. Grand larceny, being one of these felonies, does not have such limits. Therefore, a grand larceny prosecutor can initiate legal actions against you promptly or as long as they have gathered enough evidence to press the charges.
- What is the difference between grand larceny and petit larceny?
For grand larceny charges, the item’s value should be above five dollars if stolen directly from a person or above two hundred dollars if indirectly stolen. On the contrary, petit larceny charges apply if the item’s value is below five dollars.
Also, grand theft is treated as a felony while petit larceny is usually a misdemeanor.
- What mistake do most people make during an investigation, arrest, or after an arrest that hurts their larceny case?
Freely admitting the intent to steal is one of the worst mistakes that you can commit during the investigation, arrest, or your criminal proceedings. If you agree that you had the intent to commit the crime, you will lessen the prosecutor's work of proving all the facts related to your offense and as such, which gives them an advantage in your trial. Although it is a crime to lie to an officer, you should always seek to have a legal representative to advise you on how to handle the situation.
Find a Criminal Lawyer Near Me
In Virginia, specifically Fairfax and the entire Northern Virginia areas, finding an experienced attorney to represent you in court is paramount if you are facing grand larceny charges. These charges not only carry hefty fines and imprisonment but also they can remain on your criminal record forever. Virginia Criminal Attorney is particularly interested in defending you from grand larceny and all related charges. Call our Fairfax Criminal Lawyer at 703-718-5533 to speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer today.