Larceny is a theft crime that can result in serious penalties following a conviction. The penalties are determined by a number of factors, including the nature of the offense, the value of the property, and your criminal history. But not only will a conviction of larceny result in penalties, there's a social stigma that accompanies this kind of conviction alongside other negative consequences, like problems finding employment, maintaining professional licenses, or even qualifying for loans and rental leases. It is in your best interest to contact the Law Office of Charles F. Koehler, P.C. if you have been charged with larceny in Loudoun County VA.
Understanding Larceny in Loudoun County VA
Larceny is the theft of personal property of another person or entity. In Virginia, there are two types of larceny: Grand Larceny and Petit Larceny.
Grand larceny, according to Virginia Code § 18.2-95§ 18.2-95, occurs when any person:
(i) commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more,
(ii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of $500 or more, or
(iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm's value.
Petit Larceny, according to Virginia Code § 18.2-96, occurs when any person:
1. Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of less than $5, or
2. Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of less than $500, except as provided in clause (iii) of § 18.2-95.
The use of the word “larceny” in the definition of the crime does not contribute to clarifying what conduct may or may not constitute the crime. The Virginia Code, however, does provide limited guidance about some conduct that may amount to larceny. Under the Virginia Code § 18.2-103, certain conduct in a store is illegal, including when someone, with the intent to convert goods or merchandise to his or her own use, without having paid the full purchase price:
- Willfully conceals goods
- Takes possession of goods
- Alters the price tag
- Transfers goods from one container to another or
- Counsels, assists, aids, or abets another in the performance of the above acts.
The act of concealing the goods alone is considered evidence of an intent to convert the property to one's own use and defraud the owner. While this statute is specific to shoplifting, the concept behind the prohibited conduct is instructive for all larceny cases. Essentially, any time a person takes the personal property of another, with the intent of converting it to his or her own use, commits larceny.
Virginia Penalties for Larceny
Grand Larceny is punishable by imprisonment in the state correctional facility for not less than one year and no more than 20 years. However, the finder of fact, either the jury or a judge when the case is tried without a jury, may exercise discretion and punish the offender with a jail sentence not to exceed 12 months or a fine of up to $2500 or both.
Petit Larceny is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2500, or both.
Aggravating Circumstances in Loudoun County VA
Larceny is one of the crimes where the court considers aggravating factors when sentencing. In Virginia, if one has a prior larceny conviction, a second larceny conviction is punishable by a minimum of 30 days in jail and up to 12 months in jail. It does not matter if the prior larceny was more or less serious than the second larceny. The only consideration is whether there is a prior conviction in Virginia or in another state.
If one has two prior larceny convictions, a third or subsequent larceny conviction is a Class 6 felony regardless of value. Virginia punishes Class 6 felonies with a term of imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than five years.
Additional Consequences for Larceny
When a person is convicted of a larceny crime that involves shoplifting, there can be civil penalties as well as the criminal penalties discussed above. A merchant can obtain a civil judgment for two times the unpaid retail value of the merchandise in most cases. However, merchants are entitled to a minimum of $50 under the law. In cases where the merchant recovers the merchandise in a condition where the item or items can still be sold, the merchant's damages are limited to no more than $350. They may also recover reasonable fees and costs up to $150.
In addition, the owner of the goods may recover their costs of prosecuting a person convicted of shoplifting. This includes the base wage of one employee acting as a witness for the Commonwealth. However, the costs of prosecution are limited to actual expenses, and shall not exceed $250.
Loudoun County Alternative Sentencing
There are several options for serving jail time in Virginia. While some people simply enter the jail, serve their time, and leave, most people's lives can't accommodate “straight time” without major disruption.
In the alternative, some people qualify for “weekend jail.” Typically designed for those who are serving sentences of 30 days or less, people check into the jail on Friday night, and leave on Sunday night. This earns them three days in jail.
The work release program calls for people to live at the jail while they serve their time. However, they are “released” each day to go to work. At the end of the workday, they must return to the jail. They also stay at the jail on weekends, until their sentence is served.
Courts rarely order home detention. However, if someone has a major medical issue or other pressing reason and the jail cannot accommodate them, the court may order home confinement as a consequence of a criminal conviction.
Possible Defenses to Larceny in Virginia
The defense of each larceny case is dependent on the surrounding circumstances. However, some defenses common in larceny cases include:
- Challenging the value of the items taken to reduce charges from felony to misdemeanor level
- Challenging the legality of the stop of the person or their continued detention
- Providing the fact finder with more information, which puts a person's conduct into a different light
- Exploring whether the owner of the property consented to the taking.
Facing Larceny Charges in Loudoun County VA?
Every case is different. Every case deserves the time and attention of an attorney who cares about his clients. At The Law Office of Charles F. Koehler, P.C., we keep your best interests in mind as we review the evidence, explore legal theories, challenge the conclusions of the government, and represent you in your case. Contact our office today at 703-669-5644 to discuss your criminal case. We can help.