The term shoplifting refers to when an individual in Virginia willfully conceals or takes possession of goods without paying for them. This offense includes any attempts to alter a price tag on a piece of merchandise or assisting another person who unlawfully removes an item from a business establishment.
Shoplifting charges are classified as misdemeanors when the merchandise involved is worth $500 or less. Merchandise with a value higher than this amount can result in more serious charges. It should be noted that concealing merchandise while in a store is viewed as evidence of a planned theft.
The term larceny refers to the unlawful taking of another individual’s property with the intent to deprive the individual of the property. In Virginia, petit larceny is when the offender takes money or something valued less than $5 or larceny not from the person of goods valued at less than $500.
Second-time larceny offenders can face a jail term from 30 days to five years. Three-time offenders face a felony conviction that can result in a five-year prison sentence.
The charge of grand larceny applies when the value of the property taken is higher than the thresholds mentioned above. Grand Larceny is a serious crime in Virginia that can carry as much as a 20-year prison sentence. Other actions that can result in larceny charges are as follows:
- Receiving stolen goods
- Unauthorized motor vehicle use
Unlawfully taking items from a store may seem like a small offense to some people, but such a charge can lead to fines, time in jail, court costs, attorney fees and more. A shoplifter can also face future prejudice when applying for jobs or college.
Individuals accused of shoplifting or some other type of larceny may need to act fast to protect themselves from the allegations. Retaining a lawyer as early in the process as possible could provide defendants with the best chance to mount a strong defense.