What Happens in Virginia if You Are Caught Stealing?



The Commonwealth of Virginia classifies all theft as larceny, or the unlawful taking of property that doesn’t belong to you, with intent to deprive the owner of their property permanently.

Larceny is the theft of:

  • Certain poultry and animals
  • Checks and bank notes
  • Unauthorized use of vehicles, boats, animals, or aircrafts
  • Taking or concealing merchandise (shoplifting)
  • Destruction or theft of public records
  • Embezzlement

While all theft is labeled as larceny, it’s not all treated/punished equally. If caught or accused of stealing from a person or business, you will be charged with one of two types of larceny:

Petit Larceny

Petit larceny is the theft of services or property valued at less than $500, or theft of property valued at less than $5 if it was taken directly from a person. In Virginia, this type of theft is considered a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not exceeding $2,500, confinement in jail for no more than 12 months, or both.

Grand Larceny

Grand larceny is the theft of property exceeding the amounts listed above or theft of any firearm. This type of theft is considered a felony, which means a conviction will be more serious and damaging to your life. If convicted, you could face up to 20 years in prison and you must list your charge on employment applications when released, which will make it extremely difficult to find employment after you are released from prison.

Sometimes, a jury will drop a grand larceny charge down to a misdemeanor if the offender has no previous criminal record and/or the value of the property stolen is only slightly more than $500. If your charge is dropped down to a misdemeanor, your punishment will be the same as if you committed a petit larceny.

Previous Convictions

If you are convicted of larceny in Virginia, with prior convictions of either misdemeanor theft or felony larceny, your punishment may be harsher. For one, you will be confined to jail for at least 30 days and not exceeding more than 1 year.

If you have been convicted of larceny offenses 3 or more times, your offense will automatically be considered a Class 6 felony, which means you could face prison time for anywhere between 1 to 5 years and/or be required to pay a fine of $2,500. An attorney with theft-crime experience may be able to help you get your punishment dropped to the least severe outcome.

Contact The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller

If you are in Virginia Beach and facing a larceny charge of any severity, contact our firm today. We have experience with every type of theft - crime and we know how to navigate the legal system to seek the least severe punishments.

Call us today at (757) 267-4949 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation.