Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney and Trial Lawyer Explains Grand Larceny
What is Grand Larceny?
The definition of larceny is “theft of personal property.” For legal purposes, it just means theft. Virginia defines theft, or larceny crimes, into various categories based on the manner in which the property was stolen and the monetary value of the property. Va. Code § 18.2-95 defines Grand Larceny as:
Any person who
- Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more
- Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of $1,000 or more
- Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm's value
Grand Larceny is a felony offense punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison or a period in jail of up to 12 months, and a fine of not more than $2,500.
There are three ways that a theft becomes a felony:
- As stated above, when someone has $5 or more of money or property taken from their person, the theft becomes the felony Grand Larceny. This just means pickpocketing. Larceny from a person is often used as a lesser offense when negotiating a plea agreement in robbery charges. The defining feature of this type of Grand Larceny is the lack of force used by the thief. If, for instance, someone uses a gun or knife to force someone to give their wallet over, that's a robbery. If they pickpocket the wallet from someone, that's grand larceny from the person. If you are charged with an offense like this, you should call Mr. Tyler Bezilla and speak with an experienced Felony Theft Lawyer.
- The second way a theft becomes the felony Grand Larceny is when money or items are taken that are worth over $1,000. This is a hard and fast rule. If someone steals a phone worth $999, it's a misdemeanor. The moment they take an item or cash worth $1,000 or more, the theft becomes a felony offense with the punishment range stated above. These cases are often resolved to misdemeanors, but not always. If you are charged with an offense like this, you should call Mr. Tyler Bezilla and speak with an experienced Felony Theft Lawyer.
- The last way a theft becomes a felony is if a firearm is stolen. In this case, it doesn't matter how much the gun is worth. If a pistol purchased for $100 is stolen, this would still be felony Grand Larceny. There are defenses available if the item in question isn't actually a firearm. But those defenses require the analysis of a Felony Theft Lawyer. Call Mr. Tyler Bezilla today to discuss your case.
What is Petit Larceny?
Petit Larceny (often misspelled as Petty Larceny) is defined under Va. Code § 18.2-96 as:
Any person who
- Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of less than $5
- Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of less than $1,000
Petit Larceny is a class 1 misdemeanor. This theft offense is punishable with up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine.
Explained more simply, there are two ways a theft becomes the misdemeanor Petit Larceny:
- Pickpocketing money or goods worth less than $5
- Stealing money or goods worth less than $1,000. Remember, thefts of firearms are always felonies. They're the one exception to this rule.
There are always defenses available to these crimes. Often, courts have programs that allow alternative punishment such as probation and classes. Many cases also result in dismissal if the goods or money are returned. To know what defenses are available to you, you need to speak with an experienced Theft Attorney.
What is restitution?
This is just the court's process of making someone pay back whatever they stole. So, say a person takes a phone worth $800. Restitution, if ordered by the court, would require a defendant to pay back that money either in a lump sum or over time. This can also be avoided if the items taken were returned.
Are there other types of theft than Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny?
Yes. Virginia has a number of theft statutes that encapsulate different situations where money or goods are taken. Credit card and check cases have a separate set of statutes. Obtaining money by false pretenses (a type of fraud) has its own code section. There are statutes for stealing livestock and other types of industrial goods, as well as crops, receipt of stolen goods, shoplifting, stealing goods to sell them, etc.
Intent to permanently deprive:
Theft charges in Virginia require the Commonwealth to prove that a person charged with larceny intended to permanently deprive someone of goods or money. There is a separate set of code sections for people who borrow things longer than they're allowed. A common example of the intent required occurs in shoplifting cases. The Commonwealth typically will ask a store employee if the “defendant passed all points of sale.” Meaning, did the person who shoplifted walk past the cash registers. That alone can be proof of intent to permanently deprive the store of their goods.
Do you go to jail for theft offenses?
Both Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny carry a possible jail sentence. Petit is up to 12 months and Grand Larceny is up to 20 years. That's not to say people often go to jail for these offenses. A first-time shoplifting conviction will probably not face jail time in most jurisdictions. It's also common for courts to have theft classes available that allow for a reduced or dismissed charge if completed. There are also many ways to avoid conviction. There may be legal or factual defenses available in a theft case. The Commonwealth may dismiss the charge if the money is paid back or the goods returned. There are deferrals available as well, which allow you to do community service and other alternative punishments to avoid that first conviction. But these are not guarantees.
If you are charged with a theft offense, your best bet is to speak with an experienced Theft Attorney and get advice on what your options are. Call Mr. Tyler Bezilla today to discuss your case.
See this article for more information on Shoplifting Charges