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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Larceny and Theft: A Complete Guide

Larceny and Theft: A Complete Guide


Knowingly receiving stolen property, larceny (taking property), and theft (taking anything, such as keeping a rental car past the due date), are basically the same offense in Virginia. These infractions are usually misdemeanors, although they could be felonies, mostly depending on the value of the goods or services. A few other factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history, may apply as well.

Usually, a Leesburg theft lawyer negotiates a favorable out-of-court settlement with prosecutors. A favorable settlement is a process, not a result. This process begins before the first court date. Usually, the process doesn’t end after the last court date. Larceny and theft convictions often involve post-trial matters, like probation revocations and expungement petitions.

Jail Release

Successful resolutions take time. If the defendant is incarcerated, time is usually in short supply. So, pretrial release sets the stage for a successful resolution. Since theft is a nonviolent crime, several jail release options are usually available in Loudoun County, such as:

  • Pretrial Release: Own Recognizance (OR) release transforms a misdemeanor or felony arrest into a traffic ticket, at least for pretrial purposes. If the defendant agrees to appear in court and follow a few other guidelines, the sheriff releases the defendant. OR release is usually available for nonviolent offenders with no criminal record.
  • Bail Bond: Most bonding companies charge about a 10 or 15 percent premium for a bail bond, which is basically an insurance policy. If the defendant does not meet all bail conditions, the bonding company bears the financial risk.
  • Cash Bond: Posting the full bond amount (cash bond) is like paying a security deposit. If the property renter returns the property in good order, the owner refunds most of the money. Cash bond works the same way, except it’s a contract between the defendant and the county.

If immediate jail release is unavailable, and it usually is if the defendant faces multiple charges, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer can secure favorable release terms at a bail reduction hearing.

Evaluating the Case

Securing the owner’s credible testimony at trial is usually the biggest roadblock for prosecutors in these cases.

Usually, prosecutors designate a store security guard or other low-level employee as the “owner.” That’s easier than designating the Target CEO. But the convenience comes at a price.

The trial may be more than a year after the arrest date. This extended delay is another good reason to secure early jail release. Most people change jobs frequently and relocate almost as frequently. Therefore, when prosecutors prepare their trial subpoenas, the original “owner” is usually unavailable.

Redesignating the owner isn’t easy. The current store security guard probably has no personal knowledge of the event and is therefore not qualified to testify.

Even if a qualified individual can be found, these witnesses often have credibility issues. Police officers are basically professional witnesses, so they can stand up to aggressive cross-examination. Lay witnesses, who have usually never testified in court before, are different. A lawyer can often rattle these witnesses and undermine their credibility. If that happens, a conviction is very unlikely. The high burden of proof gives prosecutors very little margin for error.

Reach Out to a Diligent Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.



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