2022 Guide to Petit Larceny

November 7, 2022
woman trying to steal items in a department store

Petit larceny is a crime that is not taken seriously by the public but is very serious. Many people make the mistake of believing that it can go without punishment because it is a “minor” offense. 

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Petit larceny is considered a crime, and those convicted face significant penalties.

If you’re facing similar charges, it’s best to work with a criminal lawyer Fairfax VA. Rudolphi Law can provide a strong defense and help you find the best path forward.

What Is Petit Larceny?

In Virginia, larceny refers to taking someone’s goods without their consent. For a crime to be considered larceny, there must be an intent to keep the goods from the owner permanently. While grand larceny describes the theft of items with a high value, petit larceny refers to the theft of items with a low value.

VA Laws

According to Virginia Code §18.2-96, the theft of goods below $1,000 is classified as petit larceny. The VA code states that petit theft is a class one misdemeanor. The most common forms of this larceny are shoplifting and pickpocketing. For pickpocketing the threshold between larcenies is much lower at only $5.

Categories of Petit Larceny

Petty larceny can involve many types of theft, including shoplifting, personal property theft, stealing food from a restaurant, or failing to pay for gas. There are two main categories of petit larceny.

Larceny Not from a Person

If someone has committed theft, the type of larceny they are charged with will depend on the value of the stolen item. In Virginia, the theft of items worth less than $1,000 is classified as petty larceny.

Larceny From a Person

Theft from a person is classified as petit larceny if the item’s value is $5 or less. When an item’s value exceeds $5, the offender can be charged with grand larceny.

Punishments for Petit Larceny

When someone is charged with petty larceny, they can face criminal and civil penalties

The maximum punishment is a fine of $2,500 and 12 months of jail time, but in most cases, the punishment is less severe than these maximums. Someone with a previous conviction for larceny may face more serious penalties.

Second-time offenders can be fined and face up to 12 months of jail time. Someone with three or more offenses can be charged with a Class 6 felony rather than a misdemeanor. They can be sentenced to up to 5 years of jail time.

In Virginia, people convicted of these types of charges may also be ordered to pay restitution to the owner of the item. 

First Petit Larceny With No Criminal Records 

There are also programs available to someone charged with petit larceny for first time with no criminal records VA. These programs typically involve classes and community service. Once a program is successfully completed, the charges are dismissed. The trouble with many of these programs is that they operate on a mechanism that renders them ineligible for expungement. This is why contacting a criminal attorney Fairfax VA at Rudolphi Law is so critical.

Petit Larceny Criminal Defense Lawyer Fairfax VA

There are many ways that a skilled attorney can defend you against petty theft charges. 

For someone to be convicted of larceny, the prosecution must establish that the item or items were taken. If someone was charged with petit larceny for taking an item at a store but didn’t leave with the property, a lawyer could argue that they did not intend to take the item from the store.

Virginia law states that the defendant must have intended to deprive the owner of an item permanently. A lawyer may be able to argue that the item was borrowed rather than stolen. Arguments about the value of the items are another potential defense.

Even though petit larceny is a misdemeanor, these charges should be taken seriously. If you’ve been charged with petty theft, contact Rudolphi Law for help. To schedule a consultation and learn more about your options, call us at (703) 596-9566.