Virginia Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
Have you been charged with shoplifting in Virginia? I imagine you’re scared and worried about what you’re facing. Let’s talk about it.
Virginia shoplifting statutes
Shoplifting is a type of larceny. Depending upon the value of the merchandise in question, your shoplifting charge could be petit (petty) or grand larceny.
Any shoplifting of $200 or more is grand larceny, codified in Virginia Code Section 18.2-95.
If the merchandise is valued less than $200, it is considered petty larceny. Petit larceny is defined in Virginia Code Section 18.2-96.
Most shoplifting cases in Virginia are actually charged under a statute that makes it easier for the prosecution to prove its case. The statute makes it larceny to conceal merchandise or alter the price tag of merchandise, in order to take the merchandise.
That statute, known as “concealment,” is Virginia Code Section 18.2-103:
Whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own or another’s use without having paid the full purchase price thereof, or of defrauding the owner of the value of the goods or merchandise, (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another, or (iii) counsels, assists, aids or abets another in the performance of any of the above acts, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is less than $200, shall be guilty of petit larceny and, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is $200 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny. The willful concealment of goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, while still on the premises thereof, shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to convert and defraud the owner thereof out of the value of the goods or merchandise.
As you can see, the concealment statute is just a specific type of larceny. Depending upon the value of the merchandise in question, your shoplifting charge could be considered petit or grand larceny.
If you are charged with shoplifting in Virginia, you are facing some serious punishments. At the very least, you are looking at a misdemeanor conviction. The precise punishment depends upon the type of shoplifting you’re charged with, the facts of your case, and your prior record.
Petty larceny: (theft of goods less than $200)
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to a $2,500 fine
Grand larceny: (theft of goods of $200 or more)
- Up to 20 years in jail
Defense of Virginia shoplifting
There are ways to beat shoplifting charges. Here are just a few things we will examine:
Identity – Were you the person who was seen concealing merchandise? Perhaps you were with another person who was actually doing the shoplifting.
Intent – Did you intend to steal anything? The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you actually intended to steal.
Value – How much is the merchandise worth? If you are charged with felony shoplifting, we might be able to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor by fighting the value of the goods.
If the prosecutor cannot prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, you can beat your charge completely.
Even if there is no legal defense to your shoplifting charge, we still might be able to get your case dismissed.
If you are charged with petty shoplifting and you have a good prior record, some judges and prosecutors might agree to dismiss your case after you meet certain conditions. You would usually have to pay restitution, stay free of new charges for a period of time, perform some community service, and possibly attend anti-shoplifting classes. If you do everything you’re supposed to, your charge would normally be dismissed.
This outcome is known as a first offender disposition. It’s not always available, but it can be a great way to prevent a misdemeanor from tarnishing your clean record.
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Talk to me about shoplifting
If you are charged with shoplifting in Virginia, I would love to talk with you. I usually handle cases in Fredericksburg, King George, Spotsylvania, and Stafford. I also go to other nearby counties when the need arises.
Please contact me for a free Virginia shoplifting consultation.