Petit larceny in Virginia is a defined as a larceny from the person of another of money or other things of value of less than $5, or a larceny not from the person of another of money or other things of value of less than $200. Petit larceny encompasses most instances of minor shoplifting. It is punished as a class 1 misdemeanor.
If a defendant is found guilty of petit larceny in Virginia, punishment can range from as little as a fine to as much as 12 months in jail. This wide punishment range is reflective of the diverse sets of circumstances that fall within this charge as well as the variation in criminal history of defendants.
Larceny is defined in Virginia as the taking of goods belonging to another without the consent of that person or business with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession of those goods. So, for instance, borrowing a person's car without their permission, but with the intention of returning the vehicle, would not meet the elements necessary to prove a larceny.
The most common form of larceny is shoplifting. Most department stores and large franchise businesses have a system in place to combat shoplifting and hire at least one employee to patrol the store. That employee is typically referred to as the loss prevention officer. The complexity of loss prevention measures varies drastically from store to store. Some may have surveillance cameras recording at all times with multiples loss prevention officers working to both monitor the surveillance cameras and patrol the store. Others may have no cameras at all and simply employ an individual to patrol the store. The loss prevention officer, while not an actual police officer, will often be the primary source of evidence used against a defendant in a larceny case.
While not statutorily mandated, many jurisdictions in Northern Virginia offer a deferment program that will allow a defendant to avoid a conviction for petit larceny by participating in education and community service. In order to qualify, it must be the first time that the defendant has been charged with a larceny offense. It is important to note that while completing a deferment will result in the charge being dismissed, the record of the charge itself can not be expunged from your record. This can have dire consequences for both immigration and employment or security clearance.
If you have been charged with petit larceny, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Henson Pachuta, PLLC offers free consultations by phone at 703-822-4701 or at our office at 4011 Chain Bridge Road, Suite 200, Fairfax, Virginia 22030. Feel free to contact us through our website and we will get back to you as soon as possible.