A guide explaining the Virginia rules on larceny and shoplifting
The defendant can be found guilty of grand larceny if the property was taken directly from the person and had a value of $5 or more. The defendant can also be found guilty of grand larceny if the property taken not directly from the person had a value of $200 or more. Regardless of value, theft of any firearm constitutes grand larceny. A first time offender can be sentenced to 1-20 years in prison for the offense and ordered to pay up to a $2,500 fine. (Va. Code 18.2-95)
Petit larceny (pronounced "petty" larceny) is a lesser included offense of grand larceny. If the prosecution is unable to establish the value of the property taken, but can still establish the three above elements, the defendant can be convicted of petit larceny, which is a class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. (Va. Code 18.2-96)
Multiple Offenses of Petit Larceny
Virginia follows a "three strikes" rule for petit larceny. A third conviction is upgraded to a Class 6 felony and carries a minimum of 30 days in jail.
Shoplifting falls into the category of larceny, but has a separate statute which makes convicting shoplifters easier for the prosecution. Shoplifting is defined as the taking of merchandise from a store without permission and with the intent of making the merchandise one's own without paying the full purchase price; or defrauding the owner into accepting a lower price without the owner's permission. Thus, shoplifting includes walking out of the store without paying for goods, changing or modifying price tags on merchandise, or paying a lesser price for merchandise without negotiating with the owner. Virginia specifically criminalizes the act of concealing, hiding, or taking merchandise in a store, altering the price tags on an item, or transferring items from one container to another. A shoplifter does not necessarily have to leave the store with the items to be convicted of shoplifting. (Va. Code 18.2-103)
Friends and Accomplices
Anyone who aids, abets, counsels, or assists another person who committed shoplifting is also guilty of the same crime as the person who commit the shoplifting. Anyone who receives, conceals, buys, or hides stolen property, knowing it was stolen, can be charged with larceny. (Va. Code 18.2-108)
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