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Manassas Petty Theft Lawyer
What Is Petty Theft?
Petit larceny, or petty theft, is a type of criminal theft offense in Virginia. It refers to the improper taking of items from someone else without their consent and intending to keep – and thereby permanently deprive the owner of – those items. It encompasses several potential theft scenarios, including shoplifting and some instances of pickpocketing.
There are two ways one can be charged with “petit larceny” in Virginia. In either scenario, petit larceny is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, meaning you can potentially face jail time and significant fines if convicted.
Petty Theft vs Grand Theft in Virginia
Depending on the circumstances, petit larceny charges can be enhanced to “grand larceny” charges that carry stiffer penalties. For example, petit larceny can be charged in theft incidents involving assets valued at $1,000 or less. One of the most common forms of this type of petit larceny is shoplifting. If the value of the stolen items exceeds $1,000, offenders can again potentially face greater charges.
“Larceny from the person” refers to situations where someone directly steals one or more items off another person. If the value of the stolen items is equal to or less than $5, the perpetrator will likely face petty theft charges. Should the value of the stolen items exceed $5, they may instead be charged with grand larceny, which is a felony offense.
Based on its formal name, petit larceny may seem a relatively minor offense, but it can still land you in prison and generate large fines. Technically, the court can choose to enforce a jail sentence of up to 1 year or a fine of up to $2,500, even for a first offense. In many cases, however, a court will be more likely to mandate a few days or a small fine for first offenders.
What Is the Penalty for Petty Theft?
- In cases of shoplifting, the establishments involved also have a right to request a certain level of compensation. If all stolen merchandise is returned, a store still has the ability to request a judgment of twice the retail value of the items up to $350.
- Repeated offenses for petit larceny will generally result in harsher sentences. Courts will be less likely to extend leniency, and a third offense can be upgraded to grand larceny, even if the circumstances of the crime otherwise warrant petit theft charges. Grand larceny carries a maximum penalty of 10 years of jail time.
Can Petty Theft Charges Be Dropped?
In Virginia, you may be able to get a first offense for petit theft or grand larceny dismissed if you are willing to undergo a period of probation. The courts are not required to exercise this discretionary option. A dismissal under these circumstances is also not eligible for expungement. A Manassas petty theft attorney from our firm can review your circumstances and goals and advise whether pursuing this option makes sense for your situation.
Legal Defenses for Petty Theft in Virginia
Our Manassas petty theft lawyers at Dischley Law, PLLC are familiar with numerous effective strategies in advocating for our clients in these cases. Many are accused of shoplifting without actually “stealing” anything from a retail store. If you merely placed an item in your bag or pocket, our criminal lawyers can work to demonstrate that you intended to pay for the item and never sought to steal it. If you were accused of stealing an item from someone else that you only meant to borrow, we can establish that you always intended to return it.
If this is your first offense for petty theft or grand larceny, our theft attorneys in Manassas can evaluate a dismissal pending probation. Should that option be unavailable or not conducive to your goals, we can aim to reduce charges and do everything possible to defend you.
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