Northern Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney
Larceny, often referred to as shoplifting, stealing, or petit (or petty) theft, can result in many different charges in the Fairfax County and Northern Virginia. Theft is most commonly charged as Grand Larceny (Va. Code 18.2-95), Petit Larceny (Va. Code. 18.2-96), Concealment of Merchandise (Va. Code 18.2-103), or Embezzlement (Va. Code 18.2-111). A theft offense can be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the value of the items taken. The threshold between a misdemeanor and a felony is extremely low in Virginia. Offenses involving less than $200 in theft are misdemeanors while those offenses involving $200 or more of alleged theft are a felony.
Given the seriousness of theft crimes, anyone charged with any form of larceny or embezzlement in Fairfax County or Northern Virginia needs to consult with a lawyer that has previously handled such cases. Not only is felony larceny and embezzlement punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but theft and embezzlement crimes are considered crimes of "moral turpitude." The loss of freedom and other consequences from such a conviction can be life changing. Given what is at stake, you must be sure that any attorney you hire has the judgment, skill, and reputation to obtain the best possible resolution of the matter.
Manikas Law LLC will ensure that the charges against you are fully investigated, all evidence is obtained, and all witnesses are interviewed. As a former prosecutor in the largest jurisdiction in Virginia, Kyle G. Manikas has handled hundreds of larceny and embezzlement cases. In these cases, witness testimony and documentary evidence are crucial. Witness accounts and evidence from third parties that can aid in your defense must be obtained before such evidence is destroyed or lost. Our firm will perform a sound analysis of all evidence and provide essential trial strategies to present you with the best possible defense.
Simply because someone is charged with a larceny or embezzlement offense in Fairfax County or Northern Virginia does not mean that they are going to be convicted as charged. The charge can be dismissed if the prosecutor (Commonwealth's Attorney) is convinced that he or she will not prevail at trial or there are other compelling reasons why the prosecutor believes he should not pursue the charge. There are also different plea bargain options if certain facts are present and the attorney handling the matter is skilled at negotiating a fair plea bargain. The option of proceeding to trial always exists as well. The job of a great lawyer is to provide as many options as possible and then present and explain those options so that you can make an informed decision as to how to proceed.
To discuss your case with Kyle G. Manikas, a former prosecutor and Fairfax County and Northern Virginia larceny, embezzlement, and theft criminal defense lawyer that has handled hundreds of larceny, theft, and embezzlement cases, or to schedule a free consultation, contact our law office at 703-873-7473 or 888-503-8075, or contact us by e-mail.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove to Get a Conviction for Larceny in Virginia?
To get a conviction for larceny, the government must prove: (1) that the accused took something of value, (2) that the value was $200 or greater (to prove a felony), (3) that the property belonged to another person, (4) the owner did not consent to the taking, (5) slight movement of the property taken, and (5) that the taking was coupled with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
What Must the Prosecutor Prove to Get a Conviction for Embezzlement in Virginia?
In Virginia, embezzlement (Va. Code 18.2-111) is the theft of assets by a person who is in a position of trust over the assets. Again, like general larceny, whether a person is charged with a felony or misdemeanor is determined by the value of the assets that are stolen.
Most crimes of embezzlement in Virginia arise from an employment environment or context, but can involve public officials, bailors, and just about any other situation where one person is entrusted with care and control over another's property.
Embezzlement was created as a crime because larceny requires the unlawful taking of possession of property from another. In an employment or other similar context, the accused has lawful possession of the property that the police allege was stolen. Therefore, the crime must be prosecuted as embezzlement rather than larceny.
To commit embezzlement, the accused must first be shown to have been in lawful possession of the property of another. The property can be anything of value (as the statute states, "any money, bill, note, check, order, draft, bond, receipt, bill of lading or any other personal property"). It must further be shown that the accused used or disposed of the property wrongfully, such that he intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
As noted, the crime of embezzlement applies to public officials. Public officials can alternatively be charged with embezzlement under Va. Code 18.2-112 or 18.2-112.1 to the extent that they use or permit the use of public assets for private or personal purposes.
What is the Penalty for Larceny and Embezzlement in Virginia?
Larceny and embezzlement can both be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. Misdemeanor larceny (petit larceny) and misdemeanor embezzlement are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Felony larceny (grand larceny) and felony embezzlement are punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Given that the threshold between a felony and a misdemeanor can mean a 19 year difference in the maximum prison term, it is critical that any defense attorney fully explore and challenge any evidence as to the value of the items alleged to have been stolen. Even if the items were in fact worth more than $200, the prosecutor may have difficulty proving this fact. There are multiple cases from the Virginia Court of Appeals and the Virginia Supreme Court that discussing how value can be proven. These cases create a situation where it can be very difficult for a prosecutor to prove the value of an item that was stolen. For instance, where a store fails to save the price tag that was attached to an item that was stolen, the prosecutor usually has to offer expert testimony on the price of the item at the time it was stolen. It is not proper for an employee to say he read the price tag and then state what the price was - this is hearsay and is subject to other objections. Therefore, given the mistakes that store employees make in handling these cases, it may be possible to challenge things that may seem obvious to you, but from a legal standpoint are not so easily proven. Again, this is why you should only hire a lawyer with substantial experience in handling larceny, theft, and embezzlement cases.
It should also be noted that if the embezzlement was committed by a public official and the embezzlement is charged under Va. Code 18.2-112 or 18.2-112.1 (as opposed to 18.2-111), the crime is a Class 4 felony punishable by a minimum of 2 years in prison, a maximum jail term of 10 years, and a fine of up to $100,000.
People often want to know, "What is the average jail time a person receives for a conviction of theft, larceny, or embezzlement?" However, the answer is highly case specific and cannot be generalized. The answer in any given case will depend on the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a person's prior criminal history, as well as a variety of other factors. A person with prior criminal convictions will receive more jail time than a person who has no prior criminal record. However, the Virginia Sentencing Guidelines are not mandatory guidelines. In other words, the judge is free to ignore the guidelines. If the crime is particularly egregious, the judge can impose additional jail time above and beyond what the guidelines recommend. Similarly, the judge can impose less jail time than the guideless recommend. Therefore, it is extremely important to have an experienced and respected defense attorney to defend and present your case.
To discuss your case with Kyle G. Manikas, a former prosecutor and Fairfax and Northern Virginia criminal defense attorney that has handled hundreds of theft, larceny, and embezzlement cases, or to schedule a free consultation, contact our law office at 703-873-7473 or 888-503-8075, or contact us by e-mail.
Other Virginia Larceny & Theft Crimes
• Larceny of bank notes, checks, etc., or any book of accounts (Va. Code §18.2-98). If any person in Virginia steals any bank note, check, or other writing or paper of value, or any book of accounts, for or concerning money or goods due or to be delivered, he shall be deemed guilty of larceny, and receive the same punishment, according to the value of the thing stolen, prescribed for the punishment of the larceny of goods.
• Unauthorized use of a vehicle, animal, aircraft, or boat (Va. Code §18.2-102). Any person who takes, drives, or uses any animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat, or vessel, that is not his own, without the consent of the owner and in the absence of the owner, and with intent temporarily to deprive the owner of his possession, without intent to steal, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony (up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500) if the value of such animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel is $200 or more. If the value is less than $200, the person shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500).
• Concealing or taking possession of merchandise, altering price tags, transferring goods from one container to another (Va. Code §18.2-103). In Virginia, if a person has the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own use and: (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another, or (iii) counsels, assists, aids or abets another in the performance of these acts, the person will he guilty of larceny. If the value of goods involved in the offense is $200 or more, the offense is a felony. It is important to note that the merchandise does not need to be taken out of the store to commit this crme.
• Petit Larceny Third or Subsequent Offense (Va. Code §18.2-104). When a person is convicted of an offense of larceny or any offense deemed to be or punished as larceny, and he or she has previously been convicted or two or more larceny crimes, he shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony (punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500). Petit Larceny Second or Subsequent offense is punishable up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 with a minimum sentence of 30 days. Note: crimes such as credit card theft and false pretenses count as prior offenses because they are punished as larceny.
• Manufacture, sale, etc., of devices to shield against electronic detection of shoplifting (Va. Code §18.2-105.2). It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, offer for sale, distribute or possess any specially coated or laminated bag or other device primarily designed and intended to shield shoplifted merchandise from detection by an anti-theft electronic alarm sensor, with the intention that the same be used to aid in the shoplifting of merchandise. A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
• Receiving stolen goods (Va. Code §18.2-108). If any person buys or receives, or aid in concealing, any stolen goods or other thing, knowing the items to have been stolen, he shall be guilty of larceny.
• Larceny with intent to sell or distribute; sale of stolen property (Va. Code §18.2-108.01). Any person who commits larceny of property with a value of $200 or more with the intent to sell or distribute such property is guilty of a felony punishable by confinement in prison for not less than two years nor more than 20 years. Also, person who sells, attempts to sell, or possesses with intent to sell or distribute any stolen property with an aggregate value of $200 or more where he knew or should have known that the property was stolen is guilty of a Class 5 felony (maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine).
• Receipt of stolen firearm (Va. Code §18.2-108.1). Any person who buys or receives a firearm from another person or aids in concealing a firearm, knowing that the firearm was stolen, shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony (punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500).
• Receipt or transfer of possession of stolen vehicle, aircraft or boat (Va. Code §18.2-109). It is illegal for any person who, with intent to procure or pass title to a vehicle, aircraft, boat or vessel, which he knows or has reason to believe has been stolen, to receive or transfer possession of such vehicle, aircraft, boat or vessel. A violation of this law is a Class 6 felony (punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500).
• Failure of bailee to return animal, aircraft, vehicle or boat (Va. Code §18.2-117). If any person comes into the possession as bailee of any animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel (such as with a rental car arrangement), and fails to return the same in accordance with the bailment agreement, he shall be deemed guilty of larceny and receive the same punishment according to the value of vehicle. Va. Code 18.2-118 applies a similar law to leased property.
• For information on credit card theft and other credit card crimes please view the Credit Card Crimes page under the Fraud & White Collar Crime tab
• For information on robbery & carjacking, burglary, and breaking and entering see the separate pages on these crimes under the Violent Crimes tab
Contact An Experienced Fairfax County and Northern Virginia Larceny, Theft, and Embezzlement Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for any form of larceny, theft, or embezzlement in Fairfax County or Northern Virginia, contact a former prosecutor and experienced criminal defense lawyer at Manikas Law LLC. Kyle G. Manikas has handled hundreds of larceny, theft, and embezzlement charges.
To schedule a free consultation or to discuss your case by phone, contact our law office at 703-873-7473 or 888-503-8075, or contact us by e-mail.
For more general information about larceny and theft offenses, review our Larceny & Theft Offenses page for additional information.