There’s no question that life as we know it has been disrupted by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis has led to an increase in theft crimes like grand larceny, as Washington, DC Fox affiliate News Channel 5 reported via an April 15, 2020 video. This rise in criminal activity has put owners of shops, convenience stores, restaurants, and other businesses in Virginia on high alert. As they become victims of thieves, they’re doubling down on security efforts. In turn, law enforcement is cracking down to make arrests and prosecutors are aggressively pursuing grand larceny charges.
In most cases, grand larceny is a felony crime, so the punishment is harsh if you’re convicted. Plus, many theft crimes carry a civil penalty, which can hit your wallet hard. To obtain a favorable outcome in such a case, it’s wise to retain a Virginia grand larceny defense attorney at the earliest stages of the proceedings. An overview of this offense should convince you of the importance of hiring skilled counsel.
Overview of Grand Larceny Charges: In general, larceny is an umbrella term that covers a wide range of theft crimes and receiving stolen property. The definition is any unlawful taking of something that belongs to someone else, with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of possession, ownership, and use. From this basic description, the statutes provide for many specific larceny crimes. Virginia’s statute on grand larceny involves:
- Taking money or some other item valued at $5 or more from the person of another;
- Stealing something valued at $500 – not directly from the person of another; OR,
- Taking a firearm at any value.
Criminal Court Process After an Arrest for Grand Larceny: According to the Special Continuing Order for Prince William Circuit Court, criminal cases are proceeding as scheduled under normal practice during the COVID-19 crisis. Your case will go through the basic stages of the criminal court process, including:
- Bond hearing;
- Pre-trial motions, which are especially important for presenting defenses to the court;
- Discovery; and,
- Full trial on the merits.
Penalties for a Conviction on Grand Larceny Charges in Virginia: As mentioned, prosecutors typically pursue grand larceny as a felony offense, which means you could face no less than one year and up to 20 years’ incarceration. A judge may also fine you up to $2,500, or order any combination of jail time and fines.
However, the statute does allow for some discretion for the finder of fact in a grand larceny case. That means the jury, or judge in a bench trial, can opt to charge you with a misdemeanor instead of a felony. You’re more likely to get these lesser charges if you have no prior record and the property stolen was just over the $500 threshold. If convicted for grand larceny as a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced up to 12 months’ imprisonment, a $2,500 fine, or both.
In addition, there may be a civil penalty assessed in some grand larceny cases. Retail theft, commonly known as shoplifting, is a form of larceny; the crime is grand larceny if you steal merchandise valued in excess of $500. On top of the criminal penalties mentioned above for a misdemeanor or felony conviction, you may be ordered to pay the store owner for:
- Twice the value of the merchandise or $50, whichever is higher; and,
- Court costs and attorneys’ fees.
Virginia Grand Larceny and Theft Crimes Defense Lawyer
For more information on your rights and defense options in a Virginia grand larceny case, please contact Leary Law, P.C. We can set up a consultation for you at our offices in Manassas or Fairfax, VA. Once we have a chance to review your circumstances, our attorneys can develop strategies for fighting the charges.