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What is petty theft and what are the consequences in Virginia?

For someone who is charged with a larceny charge in Virginia, there are often questions that come up about his or her charges. In the case of petit larceny, which is sometimes referred to as petty theft, there are some basics that anyone who is faced with the charge should be aware of as he or she goes through the criminal justice system.

What is petit larceny?

Petit larceny is a charge that can apply in either of two circumstances. One of these is if someone takes things with a value of less than $200 that belong to another person. The other is if someone takes less than $5 in cash or goods from another person's physical possession. There are some exceptions to these qualifications for petty theft, so making sure your case falls under one of these is vital if you are facing this charge or trying to get another charge reduced to this charge.

What are the consequences of a petty theft conviction?

Petty theft is considered a Class I misdemeanor. Under Virginia law, a person convicted of a Class I misdemeanor can face a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail. The court can order only a fine, only jail time or a combination of both.

Because of the wide discretion the court has in these cases, it is vital for defendants to present a solid defense against the charges if they are going before the judge for a bench trial. In some cases, defendants might choose to participate in a plea bargain deal, but those should be considered very carefully if presented.

Source: State of Virginia, "§ 18.2-96. Petit larceny defined; how punished" Sep. 17, 2014

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