Perhaps you took something without paying for it because times are hard. Many of us feel the stress of the current economic crunch. But this definitely doesn’t excuse theft. And no matter how bad you needed the item you stole—it can still be considered shoplifting. Whether you admit you are guilty and are remorseful or if you are innocent of the charges against you, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help.
Shoplifting isn’t just for thrill seeking kids, it’s a serious offense most often committed by adults. And with this serious offense comes serious penalties. Virginia courts don’t take shoplifting offenses lightly, and when you’re charged with shoplifting, neither should you.
Virginia Shoplifting Laws
Shoplifting is classified as a larceny charge under Virginia law.
The charge and potential penalty you face for shoplifting depends on the value of the item(s) you are accused of taking. Obviously, the more valuable the item(s), the harsher the potential penalty.
Grand Larceny is the term used to describe any theft involving more than $200 in goods. If you are charged with shoplifting something that is valued at more than $200, you will face a felony charge and a potential 20 years in prison.
Petite Larceny is the term used to describe any shoplifting offense involving less than $200 in goods. This is a misdemeanor charge and can result in up to 1 year in jail.
In most states, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony shoplifting charge is $1,000. Because Virginia sets the bar low at $200, it’s obvious the courts here do not take charges like these lightly.
How can a defense attorney help?
When you are charged with shoplifting, or any crime for that matter, a criminal defense lawyer is your biggest advocate in the system. They are the one who will help ensure you receive fair treatment and work towards getting you the most positive results possible.
You have rights. Even when you are charged with a crime, you have rights. Your lawyer is there to help make sure those rights are protected. If the police violated your rights in any way during the search or arrest procedures, your attorney can use that to potentially get the evidence suppressed and your charges dropped.
While a complete dismissal of the charges isn’t always possible, your attorney can work with the prosecutor to come to a mutually beneficial plea agreement, potentially preventing you from serving any jail time.
The best way to know for certain what sort of penalties you may be facing and what options are available to you is to contact a criminal defense attorney for a consultation. We can help.