If you are charged with petit larceny, you are charged with a crime of theft that is considered a crime of moral turpitude involving lying, stealing or cheating. A petit larceny charge can include acts such as shoplifting, concealment of goods, altered price tags of a store item, stealing from someone's place of residence or, someone's place of business where the value of the property is less than $500.00. Petit larceny can also occur where there is a wrongful taking of an item valued at less than $5.00 from a from person without consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property (such as “pick pocketing”). Petit larceny is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in the state of Virginia, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.00. A petit larceny conviction can have a significant detrimental impact on your future and life.
The experienced and knowledgeable attorneys at Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., are adept at analyzing your case so that you can have the best chance of protecting your rights, freedom and future. We believe a petit larceny charge should not ruin your future and we will do everything in our power to resolve your case favorably. Do not wait until the last minute to contact a skilled attorney after being charged with a crime of petit larceny. Although your court date may be set one or two months out from the date of the alleged incident, your court date will come up quickly. You should contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible so that your case can be discussed, and your defense prepared. Contact Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., for a free consultation at (703) 750-3622.
What is Petit Larceny?
According to Virginia Code 18.2-96, petit larceny is defined as either taking an item or money physically from another person that has a value of less than $5, or taking items with a monetary value of less than $500 not from a person. “Not from a person” means taking something that is not physically on a person's body. Petit larceny is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. To be convicted of petit larceny, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly and intentionally took the item(s) from the owner's control with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the item. For example, accidentally taking someone's jacket because you thought it was yours and then giving it back to the owner when you realized your mistake will likely not give rise to petit larceny charge. Intentionally taking a person's jacket and keeping it, however, will be considered petit larceny.
Virginia General Assembly Petit Larceny Law Change
Previously, the threshold for petit larceny was $200. However, the Virginia General Assembly recently raised the value to less than $500, effective Jul 1, 2108. Virginia restitution laws changed as well should there be a conviction of petit larceny where the court orders restitution as part of its finding. HB 484 states that before you are allowed to end your probation or court supervision, after there is a conviction for petit larceny, you must pay restitution to victims of your theft and HB 483 maintains that Virginia is required to pay restitution to victims of larceny in that the Virginia Worker's Compensation Commission is obligated to (i) identify and locate victims for whom a restitution amount has been deposited into the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund and (ii) collect and disburse such unclaimed restitution to the victims.
Penalties of Petit Larceny
If you are convicted of petit larceny, you can be penalized by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. You may also be placed on probation for up to 2-years, and even longer should the court order a payment of restitution. In some jurisdictions, if you are a first-time offender of petit larceny, your charge may get dismissed if you attend an anti-theft program and complete community service hours. The penalties increase if you are a second or third time petit larceny offender. If convicted of a second offense petit larceny under Virginia code Section 18.2-104, there is a minimum jail sentence of 30 days. If there is a conviction for a third or subsequent petit larceny under Virginia Code Section 18.2-104, you will be convicted of a Class 6 felony.
Deferred Finding for Petit Larceny
If you have never been convicted of a petit larceny, you may be eligible to have the court enter a deferred finding and give you an opportunity complete the Opportunity, Alternative, & Resource Program (OAR Program). The OAR Program services the Counties of Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun. Successful completion of the OAR Program, community service hours, payment of court costs, payment of participation in the OAR Program, abiding by all terms and conditions of the court order, and no further violations of the law will result in you having an opportunity to have the court dismiss the petit larceny charge. The OAR Program and other Alternative Sentencing Programs offers adults charged with a first-time criminal offense to include, but not limited to petit larceny, possession of marijuana, trespassing and destruction of property, DUI, and other first-time offenses; an opportunity to perform community service and other court ordered conditions in lieu of having a conviction imposed that either may or may not include jail or a fine.
If the court gives a first-time petit larceny offender an opportunity to be referred to the OAR Program, it should be recognized that the participation in the program is voluntary although it must be approved by the presiding judge and/or Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney. Typically, in OAR, you will be required to complete 50 hours of community service, be of good behavior for 4 months (although some judges may require a 12-month good behavior period) complete a 3-hour shoplifting prevention class (classroom time for the shoplifting prevention class counts toward the 50 hours of community service), pay all court costs and OAR participation fee ($100.00) and be of your general good behavior. Once the above conditions have been successfully completed, the petit larceny charge will be dismissed. Although the charge and police records are not expungable for those who participate in the OAR Program, the OAR Program is a very important sentencing alternative where dismissal may be obtained as opposed to having a petit larceny conviction. For those who are given an opportunity to complete the program but do not successfully comply with the OAR conditions, typically a judge will impose a fine and a conviction for petit larceny. In the Arlington County, the OAR Program is a great alternative to being found guilty of a first-time petit larceny charge.
Civil Liability To Store Owner
In addition to criminal penalties associated with a conviction for shoplifting (to included jail, a fine, probation and restitution), a person may be civilly liable under a separate law to a store owner under Virginia code section 8.01-44.4(A), that allows a storeowner or merchant to collect a civil judgment of up to 2 times the unpaid retail value of the merchandise, or a $50, whichever is greater. If the store owner or merchant recovers the merchandise and it is in sellable condition, the civil penalty will not be more than $350.00. Additionally, if you refuse to pay the civil penalty, the store owner can file suit in court and demand that you pay the civil penalties in addition to the store owner's reasonable court costs and attorney fees in the amount of no more than $150.00.
How to Defend Against Petit Larceny
Before there can be a conviction for petit larceny, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a taking of the property of another deliberately occurred opposed to a mistake, that the taking was done with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of possession of the property, that the taking was without the consent of the rightful owner and that the property was valued at less than $500.00. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to establish that the taking was done accidently, or with intent to borrow or there is lack of evidence to establish value. Furthermore, discovery and video surveillance may be obtained and reviewed in addition to thoroughly analyzing the specific circumstances surrounding your apprehension and arrest to determine if your Miranda or constitutional rights were violated.
Prepare Your Petit Larceny Case with Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC Today!
A petit larceny charge doesn't have to ruin your life. There are ways to defend against this charge and decrease or eradicate your penalties. You should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney when facing a petit larceny charge. With a depth of experience in larceny cases, attorney John Kassabian will discuss with you the approach defenses to your petit larceny charge for the best possible outcome. As a former prosecutor for Arlington and Prince William Counties, John has seen an array of petit larceny charges from both sides of the spectrum.
Don't let a petit larceny conviction impact your future. Contact Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C., today at (703) 750-3622.