Theft Crime Attorney in Virginia
Speak with an experienced Virginia Theft Crimes Attorney
At the Flynn Law Firm, we recognize how serious Virginia larceny crimes are, and how they can affect you and your livelihood, especially in Virginia. They can cause problems with employers, education, and many of these charges have serious collateral consequences, such as the loss of a security clearance, the right to vote or possess a firearm, and/or immigration consequences.
In Virginia, theft charges are still classified as larcenies, a term dating back hundreds of years. There are two classifications of larceny: Grand Larceny and Petit (pronounced “petty”) Larceny. Grand Larceny is an unclassified felony that has a penalty of up to twenty years in the penitentiary. Petit Larceny, on the other hand is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, with a potential consequence of up to one year in jail. Finally, there is Larceny with Intent to Sell. Larceny with Intent to Sell, like Grand Larceny is an unclassified felony with a maximum of up to 20 years. However, under this statute, sentences begin at 2 years (as opposed to 1 for Grand Larceny) if you are convicted.
There is only one difference between Grand Larceny and Petit Larceny, and that’s the value of the allegedly stolen item. If the value of the item is greater than $200, then it is considered felony Grand Larceny. Any item valued at $200 or less is a misdemeanor petit larceny.
A larceny is the intentional taking of the personal property of another, with the intent to deprive the owner of that property indefinitely. The thing about larcenies is that the crime is often accomplished (in theory) before the alleged perpetrator has left the premises. The prosecutor needs to prove that the perpetrator took (or concealed) merchandise, and that when they took / concealed it, they had the intent to take it from the owner and not return it. Because it is impossible to prove what someone is thinking, the prosecutor will use circumstantial evidence to “prove” what the alleged perpetrator was thinking. Thus, if an alleged shoplifter places an item in their pocket, and they look around to see if anyone saw them, and then speedily walks past all points of sale, then the prosecutor will use that as the proof of the shoplifter’s intent.
Habitual Larceny / The 3 Strikes Rule
To further complicate Virginia’s statutory scheme is habitual larceny. Under 18.2-104 Virginia reserves the right to charge ANY theft as a felony, regardless of the value of the item, if the alleged perpetrator has committed two prior theft related offenses. It is critical to note that there is no time limit as to when those prior convictions occurred, and there is no limitation on geography. Here’s an example, to illustrate:
In 1983 John was convicted of stealing a $75 Walkman from Circuit City in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In 2003, John was convicted of theft again for stealing a $400 television in Manassas, Virginia. In 2018, John is caught stealing a $3 bag of chips from a CVS in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. The $3 bag of chips is John’s third theft, and as such may be charged as a felony, even though it is only valued at $3 – FAR below the statutory threshold of $200.
Under Virginia’s shoplifting statute, if someone is found to have concealed merchandise, or altered the price tags, that will be considered a theft. For example, if someone were to substitute price tags between two items, and tried to “purchase” the now heavily “discounted” item, then that person could be charged with the theft of that item. The value of the item will determine whether that charge is a misdemeanor or felony.
Larceny with Intent to Sell
Larceny with Intent to Sell is exactly as it sounds. In order for a prosecutor to prove that someone is guilty of this act, they would need to prove that (1) the person intended to steal the merchandise, (2) the value of the collective merchandise was greater than $200, and (3) that the person intended to sell the merchandise afterwards.
Again, as with all instances where a prosecutor has to prove what someone’s thinking, their cases will be built with circumstantial evidence. As discussed above, prosecutors will use the alleged perpetrator’s actions as circumstantial proof of what they were thinking. If someone puts something that they did not purchase into their pocket, and then runs past out the exit at full speed, the prosecutor would argue that they intended to steal the items in their pockets. In truth, the prosecutor has no idea what the person was thinking at the time. But their actions will prove helpful for a judge or jury to decide.
Larceny with Intent to Sell would seem to add additional layer of speculation, because it requires not only the proof of the intent to steal in the first place, but then adds the intent to sell it afterwards. The statute itself provides the solution for the prosecutor. The statute states that where someone has stolen multiple items of the same merchandise, that that’s on its face, sufficient to bring a charge against someone with Larceny with Intent to Sell.
The rationale behind this law is that someone who steals 10 televisions cannot possibly intend to use all 10 televisions for their own personal purpose. This inference is rebuttable, and in order to escape a conviction under Larceny with Intent to Sell, the alleged perpetrator would have to put on sufficient evidence at trial to convince the judge or jury that they lacked any intent to resell the 10 televisions. It should be noted that, even if a judge or jury agreed that the alleged defendant did not intend to resell those televisions, the perpetrator could still be found guilty of the simple theft, Grand Larceny of those 10 televisions. Because Larceny with Intent to Sell has a minimum sentence of 2 years if convicted, it will always be the goal to challenge whether the prosecutor can prove the intent to sell, and if not force them to drop or amend the charge to something lesser.
Embezzlement is different than most types of theft related charges. In a typical theft charge, the alleged perpetrator is often a stranger or someone unknown to the owner of the property that is stolen. In cases of embezzlement, it is the opposite. The alleged thief, is someone known to the owner of the property, and someone whom the owner has placed in a position of trust.
In an embezzlement case, the alleged thief has been given permission by the owner of property, and is usually an employee. That employee is then accused of taking the owner’s property for their own purposes. For example, an employee is working at a register of a store, and is provided $100 in cash by a customer. The $100 belongs to the store, and the store owner has given the employee permission to collect the money for the sale of their goods. If the employee pockets that $100, they can be charged with embezzlement. In all cases of embezzlement, whether it’s an actual employee or not, the alleged embezzler will have to have had some relationship of trust with the owner, and abused that trust.
Like the other theft related charges, the seriousness of an embezzlement charge will be tethered to the value amount of the item allegedly stolen. If the value of the item is under $200, then it will be a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If it is over $200, then it will be a Class 4 Felony.
Burglary charges are very serious charges requiring the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Virginia recognizes two types of Burglary: (1) Common Law, and (2) Statutory Burglary. The charges that the prosecutor chooses to proceed will determine what they need to prove in order to obtain a conviction.
For Common Law Burglary, the prosecutor must prove that the alleged perpetrator: (1) entered someone else’s home; (2) at night (within 30 minutes of sunset / sunrise); with the intent to commit a felony. Common Law Burglary is punishable as a Class 3 Felony, and if there was a deadly weapon involved in committing the burglary, then the offense becomes a Class 2 Felony, with a minimum of 20 years in prison.
The Common Law definition proved to be to limiting for prosecutors, as it was pretty specific about when and where an alleged act had to occur for it to be considered a burglary. Therefore, Virginia’s General Assembly enacted Statutory Burglary which allows for the same act to be considered a burglary if it happens during the day, or at a business, or anywhere outside of a home. For Statutory Burglary, the prosecutor must prove that the alleged perpetrator: (1) an alleged perpetrator breaks into a building (any building, it does not have to be a home) during the day or night, with the intent to commit murder, rape, rob, or arson; (2) an alleged perpetrator breaks into a building (any building, it does not have to be a home) during the day or night, with the intent to commit a larceny, assault and battery or any other felony not listed here; and (3) an alleged perpetrator breaks into a building with the intent to commit a misdemeanor.
The penalties for Statutory Burglary vary depending on the circumstances of the charge. Like Common Law Burglary, if someone is accused of Burglary with intent to commit rape, robbery, murder or arson, then that is a Class 3 Felony. Similarly, if a deadly weapon was used to accomplish the burglary, then the offense becomes a Class 2 Felony. On the other hand, if the Burglary is charged with intent to Commit Larceny, Assault or another felony, then that charge will be charged as an unclassified felony, with a penalty of up to 20 years. If they utilized a deadly weapon in the crime, then the punishment could be life in prison. Finally, Burglary with intent to commit a misdemeanor is a Class 6 Felony.
If you or someone you care about has been charged in Virginia for burglary or another theft related offense, contact the Flynn Law Firm for a free consultation. We are an African American law firm with 8 years of experience handling these types of cases. Rex Flynn is licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. but practices primarily in Northern Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Prince William and Loudoun Counties). These charges are serious, you deserve to be represented by an attorney that you trust and that will fight for you to the very end. Give us a call today for a free consultation.
Robbery is different from all of the above theft charges, as it has the additional element of force, or threat of force included. Robbery is the taking of an item, belonging to someone else, by force, or threat of force. Because of the additional use of force, and the accompanying danger to the purported victim, Robbery is treated far more severely than the other types of theft. As opposed to other theft charges, the value of the item taken does not affect the severity of the crime. If a robbery occurred it is an unclassified felony with a minimum of 5 years and a maximum of life in prison if convicted. Additionally, if a firearm was used in the commission of the burglary, that is a completely separate charge, with a 3-year mandatory minimum sentence if convicted.
If you or someone you care about has been charged in Virginia for a theft related offense, contact the Flynn Law Firm for a free consultation. We are an African American law firm with 8 years of experience handling these types of cases. Rex Flynn is licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. but practices primarily in Northern Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Prince William and Loudoun Counties). These charges are serious, you deserve to be represented by an attorney that you trust and that will fight for you to the very end. Give us a call today for a free consultation.
Possession of Burglarious Tools
Possession of Burglarious Tools in Virginia is a Class 5 Felony. Burglarious Tools are essentially any tool that could be used to accomplish a theft or burglary. In almost all instances, the tool itself has a perfectly reasonable innocent usage, that has nothing to do with theft. But, in order to prove their case, prosecutors will have to use direct and circumstantial evidence that the tool in question was in fact being used to perpetrate a theft. For example, scissors to cut off tags have been charged as burglarious tools. So have bags, aluminum foil and wire cutters. Whether a prosecutor can prove that an item is a burglarious tool is going to be very fact specific and dependent on the circumstances of the case at hand.
Defense of Larceny Charges
Defending theft related charges is very nuanced, and will depend in great measure on the facts of each case. Often times, prosecutors will charge multiple people in the theft of an item even though the person charged was simply there, and not responsible for the theft. You need an attorney prepared to fight for you and skilled in these types of cases. Many times theft charges are circumstantial. The prosecutors have to prove your intent, and that can be very tricky for them to do, and depending on the circumstances, impossible.
If you or someone you care about has been charged in Virginia for a theft related offense, contact the Flynn Law Firm for a free consultation. We are an African American law firm with 8 years of experience handling these types of cases. Rex Flynn is licensed to practice law in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. but practices primarily in Northern Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington, Falls Church, Alexandria, Prince William and Loudoun Counties). These charges are serious, you deserve to be represented by a criminal defense attorney that you trust and that will fight for you to the very end. Give us a call today for a free consultation.