Prince William County Theft Lawyer

While shoplifting a small item of little value may seem minor and relatively insignificant, a theft conviction still can leave a mark on your background that may influence future decisions by employers, landlords, colleges, and graduate or professional schools.

A theft conviction could hamper your ability to better yourself and improve your circumstances. It could also threaten your immigration status if you are not a U.S. citizens. Therefore, you may wish to get legal representation from a Prince William County theft lawyer.

Since theft is inherently a crime of dishonesty, the fact that it may be a minor crime may be irrelevant to prospective employers. When faced with a decision between a person with a theft conviction and a person with a clean criminal record, the employer is more likely to choose the one without a criminal conviction – especially if the position involves access to company funds. Representation by a criminal defense lawyer may make all the difference in your case and your future.

Larceny in Prince William County

Virginia law refers to theft as “larceny.” A larceny offense is either petit larceny, which generally involves property valued at less than $500, or grand larceny, which usually involves property valued at $500 or more. Under Va. Code § 18.2-96, individuals who steal property worth less than five dollars directly from others is petit larceny, and if it is more worth more than five dollars it is grand larceny.

Va. Code § 18.2-95 also sets forth one exception to these general guidelines for charging larceny as petit larceny or grand larceny. The theft of a firearm, regardless of its value, constitutes grand larceny. Those who are facing larceny charges, especially if they are grand larceny charges, may wish to consult with a theft lawyer in Prince William County before attempting to handle the matter on your own.

Potential Penalties for Larceny

Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor. A conviction for this offense can result in up to one year in jail and up to $2,500 fine. It can also result in being barred from  the place where the theft took place. Grand larceny, which is a felony offense, has a range of potential penalties, which can include up to 20 years in prison. However, a judge or jury does have the ability to decrease the sentence for grand larceny to a jail sentence of no more than 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.

For individuals who have a prior larceny conviction, no matter in what jurisdiction, there is a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days, ranging up to 12 months. For a third or subsequent offense, regardless whether it constitutes petit or grand larceny, the charge becomes a Class 6 felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

Theft Offenses in Prince William County

Various other code sections address the theft of particular goods and items. For instance, there are separate code sections for larceny of:

  • Certain animals and poultry
  • Bank notes and checks
  • Shopping carts from store property
  • Public records by individuals other than officers

Va. Code § 18.2-103 also sets forth shoplifting as a separate larceny offense. However, the charges and penalties are roughly equivalent to those for petit and grand larceny. Since the penalties associated with shoplifting can be as severe as those for larceny, individuals may look to a theft attorney in Prince William County for legal assistance.

In addition to the potential criminal penalties for shoplifting, Va. Code § 8.01-44.4 imposes civil liability on those who steal items from stores or their employer, such as in the case of embezzlement. A store owner can seek $50 or twice the value of the stolen property, whichever is greater, from the individuals who committed the theft offense.

If, however, the store owner can regain possession of the property and can resell it, then civil liability is capped at $350, as well as reasonable court costs and attorney fees of up to $150.

How a Prince William County Theft Attorney Can Help

Any larceny or theft conviction can be a permanent stain on your record that may adversely impact your future. Failure to treat these charges seriously can result in difficulties in many different areas of your life. A Prince William County theft lawyer may be able to help you determine what options are available to you in resolving your case.

Some defenses may apply to your case, but you may be unable to discover them or properly raise them without the assistance of legal counsel. As a result, representation throughout any criminal court proceedings can be essential.