While theft charges, particularly with regard to items of little value, may initially seem like a relatively minor charge, a conviction for theft can have negative consequences that can follow you for years, both personally and professionally. Because theft inherently is a crime of dishonesty, employers, landlords, and higher education institutions can look upon theft convictions unfavorably if you are seeking to further your education, rent an apartment, or embark upon a new career.
As a result, if you are facing any type of theft charges, you may want to check with a Virginia theft lawyer before you take any actions or make any decisions about your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney could advocate on your behalf and help you fight these allegations.
Many theft crimes fall under the classification of larceny in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The level of larceny charged in a particular theft offense depends upon the nature and value of the item stolen. For items valued at less than $500, the charge is petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor criminal offense.
Theft of an item directly from others valued at less than $5 also is classified as petit larceny under Code of Virginia § 18.2-96. Due to this extremely low threshold for the value of items stolen, it is very easy to end up facing grand larceny charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
For the theft of items valued at more than $500 or if more than $5 is stolen directly from others, the charge is grand larceny, which is a felony criminal offense. Additionally, some items that are stolen automatically constitute grand larceny or a felony under Virginia law, such as firearms, regardless of their actual value. Two or more prior convictions for petit larceny also will result in a grand larceny charge.
For a petit larceny Class 1 misdemeanor conviction, the potential penalty is a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500. In the case of a retail theft, the individuals normally will be prohibited from coming back on the retailer’s property.
For a grand larceny conviction, the potential penalty can range from one to 20 years of incarceration, but as a practical matter, any sentence of incarceration is likely to be much shorter in length. Most grand larceny charges are felonies, and in addition to incarceration, they can result in a fine of up to $2,500. Additional repercussions of a grand larceny or any type of felony conviction can include loss of the right to possess or carry a firearm and an inability to vote.
Given the potential gravity of a grand larceny conviction, which often is a felony, consulting with a theft attorney in Virginia is advisable prior to entering into a plea agreement or pleading guilty to any criminal charges.
Many Virginia jurisdictions offer first-time offender programs, which may permit individuals in certain situations to “defer” their charges for a period of time. If these individuals complete certain requirements and do not get into any further legal trouble, then the charges may be dismissed.
Keep in mind, however, that deferred findings still remain as a part of individuals’ criminal records and cannot be expunged. Plus, individuals who fail to meet the requirements of a first-time offender program may still end up with a criminal conviction. For more information about deferred findings and participating in a first-time offender program, contact a Virginia theft lawyer today.
No matter whether you are facing petit or grand larceny charges, a theft conviction can have adverse repercussions for your personal and professional life for many years. Before you take any steps to attempt to resolve your larceny charges on your own, you should consider the benefits of getting legal advice from a Virginia theft lawyer.
An experienced criminal defense attorney could explain the potential consequences of a criminal theft conviction to you and determine what options may be available to resolve your case.