Shoplifting is a crime in Virginia, though the severity of the charges depends on the value of the goods in question. If you were charged with shoplifting in Virginia, you could potentially be facing steep penalties, from jail time to fines and other long-term consequences. Contact an experienced Virginia shoplifting defense lawyer at Invictus Law for a free consultation.
What Is Shoplifting?
In Virginia, shoplifting is a type of larceny that can be charged when a person purposefully conceals or steals goods. It can also involve altering a price tag or intentionally helping someone else take possession of items without paying for the goods in full. Concealing goods on the premises can also be taken as evidence of shoplifting.
Shoplifting can be divided into two categories of larceny. If a person takes merchandise with a total value of less than $1000, it is considered petty larceny. If the total value of the goods is $1000 or greater, that would be considered grand larceny.
Penalties for Shoplifting in VA
If you commit larceny in Virginia, you could be charged and convicted of a crime. The penalties for a shoplifting charge in Virginia include:
- Jail time
- Lawyer fees and court costs
- Being prohibited from accessing the premises where the offense occurred
In Virginia, petty larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, or both.
Grand larceny crimes are punishable by one to 20 years in a state correctional facility. However, in some cases, the court may opt to sentence a person convicted of grand larceny to a maximum of 12 months in jail, a maximum $2,500 fine, or both.
In addition to the penalties imposed by the law, a criminal conviction can follow you for many years to come. If you are convicted of larceny, particularly if you’re convicted of a felony, you might have difficulty securing employment, taking out a loan, landing a job, and getting student financial aid so that you can pursue higher education opportunities.
That’s why it is crucial to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer to handle your case.
Defenses to Shoplifting Charges
There are several potential legal defenses available to individuals charged with shoplifting. An experienced Virginia criminal defense attorney can help you strategize on the strongest possible defense with the goal of getting your charges reduced or even dismissed.
- Mistake of facts – One possible defense your attorney could employ is arguing that the facts related to your charges are inaccurate. For example, if the merchandise you took from a store is not the same as the merchandise the store has accused you of stealing, then you can’t be held responsible for the stolen items.
- Lack of intent – For larceny charges to stick, the prosecution must be able to prove that you had the intent to steal merchandise. Your attorney could argue that you unintentionally walked out with the merchandise because you were distracted, for instance. If you didn’t intend to take the goods, then you can’t be charged with larceny.
- Consent – If you paid full price for the merchandise and have a receipt to prove it, then your attorney can use those records as evidence that you didn’t shoplift the items. Or, if a cashier or another store staff member allowed you to take certain items outside the store and then tried to accuse you of shoplifting, your attorney could use their consent as a defense.
- Plea deal – If the case against you is strong and the prosecution has sufficient evidence to convict, your attorney can help you negotiate a plea bargain. By entering into a plea bargain where you plead guilty to the offense, you could potentially reduce the charges against you. For instance, your attorney could negotiate a deal where you agree to plead guilty in exchange for reducing your charges from a felony to a misdemeanor.
These are just a few of the many possible defenses that your attorney may explore. Hiring an attorney to represent you will significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
How Invictus Law Could Help
At Invictus Law, our Virginia criminal defense attorneys have the resources to help you understand the charges you are facing, build and present a compelling defense on your behalf, ensure that your constitutional rights have not been violated, provide legal advice and support, and act as your advocate throughout the legal process.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation.