Criminal charges in Virginia can carry harsh penalties, but different crimes are treated differently. You’re much more likely to face significant prison time for violent crimes. That includes crimes related to theft.
While “theft” is not a crime under Virginia law, stealing falls under charges like larceny, robbery, and burglary. If you’ve been charged with any of these offenses, you have the right to defend yourself. The Virginia criminal defense lawyers at Leary Law have extensive experience with both violent and non-violent theft cases, so keep reading to learn more. You can also get an initial consultation by calling one of our Virginia offices or filling out our contact form.
What Is Considered Violent and Non-Violent Theft in VA?
“Theft” is not a crime under Virginia law. Instead, the statutes that define larceny, robbery, and burglary cover most crimes that people call theft.
Broadly speaking, larceny is the crime of stealing someone else’s property without the use of violence. If you stole less than $500 from a person, business, or organization, you could be charged with petit larceny (also known as petty larceny). You could also be charged with petit larceny for stealing something worth less than $5 from someone’s person.
If you steal more than $500 from a person, business, or organization, you could be charged with grand larceny and face stiffer penalties. You could also be charged with grand larceny for stealing a firearm or by stealing an item worth more than $5 off someone’s person.
Robbery is similar to larceny but generally involves the use of violence or the threat of force. The threat of force doesn’t have to be verbal to be considered robbery. Violent body language or threatening gestures may also qualify. Any theft that involves a firearm or other deadly weapon qualifies as robbery under Virginia law. These charges almost always result in harsher penalties for convicted offenders.
The final major category of theft-related crime in Virginia is burglary, also known as breaking and entering. Burglary is defined as breaking into someone else’s property to commit any crime, including theft, regardless of whether that crime is a misdemeanor or felony. As with most offenses, a burglary charge involving a firearm or other weapon carries much higher penalties than an unarmed burglary charge.
What Are the Penalties for Violent and Non-Violent Theft?
The penalties for theft-related crimes in Virginia depend on the particular charge involved and the circumstances of the alleged criminal act. Broadly speaking, the penalties break down like this:
- Petit larceny- Class 1 misdemeanor. Penalties include up to $2,500 in fines and one year in jail.
- Grand larceny- Class 1 misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of the case. Penalties include up to $2,500 in fines and jail time, or up to 20 years if you’re charged with felony grand larceny.
- Robbery- Minimum Class 3 felony. Penalties include a prison sentence of at least five years and up to $100,000 in fines.
- Burglary- Armed burglary is a Class 2 felony, punishable by 20 years to life in prison and fines up to $100,000. Unarmed burglary is a Class 3 felony, punishable by five to 20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
How a Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
Being accused of a theft-related crime in Virginia, even a non-violent theft, can significantly impact your life and your future. Here are some ways a criminal defense lawyer can help if you’ve been charged with theft:
- Determining if the evidence against you was obtained legally and having it dismissed if not
- Examining the case to poke holes in the prosecution’s narrative
- Negotiating for a lesser charge and sentence
- Preparing your defense for trial and representing you in court
You need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible if you’ve been charged with theft in Virginia. Get an initial consultation from Leary Law by calling our offices in Fairfax or Manassas or visiting our contact page.