Property crimes are those crimes that involve the theft, destruction, or unauthorized use of someone else’s property. Common property crimes are larceny, trespassing, arson, destruction of property, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, and embezzlement. Property crimes can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on how serious the offense is. Often, the dollar value of the property taken or destroyed dictates the seriousness of the offense. These offenses are punishable by both a fine and imprisonment.
If you have been charged with a crime against property, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can discuss your options and possible defenses. Attorney Dischley has handled numerous property crimes as both a defense attorney and prosecutor. He represents individuals charged with property crimes in Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford and other surrounding counties.
Virginia Crimes Against Property
- Larceny is unlawful theft of goods with the intent to permanently deprive. Petit Larceny, under Virginia Code § 18.2-96, involves the theft of goods valued at under $200.00. It is punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine not more than $2,500.00). Grand Larceny, under Virginia Code § 18.2-95, involves the theft of goods valued at $200 or more. Grand Larceny is punishable as a Felony offense with the possibility of imprisonment up to 20 years. If the larceny is from the person of another, the dollar value that distinguishes a felony and misdemeanor is $5.00.
- Shoplifting in Virginia is punishable by either petit larceny or grand larceny depending on the value. Virginia Code § 18.2-103 prohibits concealing merchandise with the intent to convert it to your own use or altering the price of merchandise.
- Burglary involves the breaking and entering into a dwelling or business with the intent to steal or commit other crime. Virginia has both common law burglary (dwelling at night) [Va. Code § 18.2-89) and statutory burglary (business and dwelling) [Va. Code §§ 18.2-90; 18.2-91; 18.2-92;]
- Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle is charged when a person, without the intent to steal, takes or uses a person’s vehicle without the permission of the owner. If the vehicle is worth more than $200 it is a class 6 felony (punishable by up to 5 years in prison); otherwise, it is a class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail).
- Embezzlement is stealing that is accomplished by virtue of a person’s employment by converting proceeds or goods intended or owned by your employer to your own use. Va. Code § 18.2-111.
- Trespassing is when you go on the property of another after being forbidden to do so or in violation of signs posted on the property. Va. Code § 18.2-119.
- Destruction of Property is when you intentionally destroy another person’s property. The amount of damage done determines the severity of the offense. If the damage is less than $1,000.00, it is a class 1 misdemeanor (12 months in jail; $2,500.00 fine). If it is over $1,000.00, the offense is a class 6 felony (5 years in prison). Va. Code § 18.2-138.
- Arson is intentionally setting fire to another’s property to cause destruction or damage. Arson is punishable as either a Class 2 felony or Class 3 felony depending on the circumstances, may result in a sentence of up to 20 years prison. Va. Code § 18.2-77
Other property crimes in Virginia are issuing bad checks, receiving stolen goods, and unlawfully entering property. There are multiple other property crimes in the Virginia Code but the ones listed on this page are the most common charged. § 18.2-77
Defenses to Crimes Against Property
Depending on the offense you are charged with, various different defenses to crimes against property can be employed in Virginia. For example, a lawyer can argue that an act was not done intentionally, or that the accused had a lawful claim of right to the property taken. Defenses are specific to the crime charged and the specific factual circumstances.
Like all other offenses, specific constitutional challenges can be brought to try and suppress evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. If successful, the prosecutor may not be able to prove the charge against you because the evidence suppressed was crucial to their case.
If you have been charged with a crime against property, contact Attorney Dischley today.