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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Virginia Larceny Basics

Virginia Larceny Basics

Larceny is the legal term for what is usually called theft. Virginia breaks its theft law up into two categories – petit larceny and grand larceny. Shoplifting is one of the most common forms of larceny. This article explains the basics of Virginia larceny law.

Definition of Larceny

Like most legal terms, the concept of larceny seems simple on the surface, but there are specific elements that need to be present for a charge of larceny to stand.

  • Action of Carrying Away: The first element that the prosecution needs in order to prove that someone is guilty of larceny is to prove that someone carried something away. In other words, an object must have moved. The person committing larceny must have caused something to move and change hands. I can claim that your TV is mine, but it is not larceny until I actually come and take it from your house.
  • Lack of Consent: The property needs to be taken without the consent of the owner. For example, if I lend a friend a book, he or she has my consent to have the book and it is not larceny. However, if someone comes into my room and takes a book without me knowing, that may be larceny because I did not approve of that.
  • Mental State and Intent to “Permanently Deprive”: An important part of larceny is that the person who is committing it has the intention to keep the property forever. So, if the person who took the book out my room just wanted to look something up and planned to bring it back the next day, it is not larceny. Conversely, if he or she meant to keep the book, it is larceny.

All three of these elements must be met for a charge of larceny to be proven. Whether that larceny will be considered petit or grand larceny will depend on the value of what was taken and the way in which it was taken.

Difference Between Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny

There are three  factors that will determine whether a theft is a petit larceny or a grand larceny. One factor is whether the property was taken directly from a person, such as in a pickpocket, or whether the property was taken from somewhere else. The second factor is what property was stolen. Most property is treated the same, except for firearms. The third factor is how much the stolen property is worth.

Therefore, petit larceny is when  property or money taken directly off a person is worth less than $5, the property is not a firearm, or the property not taken directly off a person is worth less than $200. Conversely, grand larceny is when $5 or more is taken directly from a person, or the property not taken directly off a person is valued at $200 or more, or when the property stolen was a firearm.

Leesburg, Virginia Larceny Attorneys

If you or a loved one are charged with petit or grand larceny in Virginia, you need a skilled larceny attorney on your side to defend you against the charges. Our experienced larceny attorneys at Simms Showers serve clients in Leesburg, Manassas, Fairfax County and throughout Northern Virginia and can help you to get a reduced sentence or defend your innocence against the larceny charges.

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