Virginia retains its common law definition of larceny, which is found in case law rather than in the Virginia Code. Case law defines larceny as a wrongful or fraudulent taking of another's personal property without permission and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
The Virginia Code does, however, classify larceny offenses into petit and grand larceny based on the value of the stolen property or type of property. The code also provides that certain offenses are considered larceny, such as shoplifting, false pretenses, embezzlement, and receiving stolen goods.
A person commits petit (or petty) larceny by doing either of the following:
Judges have the option to use a deferred disposition if a defendant facing misdemeanor larceny charges has no prior felony convictions and hasn't previously received a deferred disposition for larceny. In this sentencing alternative, the judge places the defendant on probation without finding him guilty of the crime. If the defendant successfully completes the term of probation, the case is dismissed.
The offense becomes grand larceny when:
Grand larceny is a felony. A person who commits grand larceny faces one to 20 years in prison.
Virginia law gives juries and judges the discretion to punish grand larceny as a misdemeanor. This situation might occur, for instance, if the offender has no criminal record and the value of the property stolen is valued at only slightly more than $1,000. If grand larceny is punished as a misdemeanor in this type of situation, the offender will face up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
(Va. Code §§ 18.2-10, -11, -95, -96, -97, -98, -102, -108, -111; 19.2-303.2 (2022).)
Like many states, Virginia's shoplifting laws provide for both criminal and civil penalties.
A person commits shoplifting by intentionally doing any of the following acts without the merchant's consent and with intent to permanently deprive the merchant of the goods or their full retail value:
Shoplifting is a type of larceny, and the criminal penalties are based on the value of the merchandise involved. When the value of the stolen goods or merchandise is less than $1,000, the offender is guilty of petit larceny. A person guilty of petit larceny faces penalties of up to 12 months of incarceration and a $2,500 fine. However, if the taken items have a value of $1,000 or more, the shoplifter has committed grand larceny. A person who commits grand larceny is subject to one to 20 years of incarceration or confinement for 12 months and a $2,500 fine.
Additionally, a person who makes, sells, or possesses a laminated bag or other device intended to prevent the detection of shoplifted merchandise commits a Class 1 misdemeanor. Such an offender faces up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.
In addition to criminal penalties, a person (adult, emancipated minor, or employee) who commits shoplifting in Virginia may be civilly liable to the store owner for:
(Va. Code §§ 8.01-44.4; 18.2-10, -11, -103, 104.1, -105.2 (2022).)
If you have been charged with larceny or a related crime, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Larceny charges can negatively affect future employment opportunities, the ability to qualify for housing, and even immigration status. An experienced lawyer will be able to thoroughly discuss your options with you.