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An Overview Of Theft Charges In The State Of Virginia

Interviewer: What are the different kinds of theft charges that someone could be facing?

Brian Geno: The smallest of the theft charges is called petty larceny. That is Latin, of course, for small theft. That is considered a misdemeanor in Virginia Courts. Misdemeanor, a Class 1 misdemeanor means that it could possibly have a year in jail. It could possibly have a $2,500 fine and, of course, during the year after a person is convicted they could be on probation if they are convicted. That is what petty larceny is about.

Grand Larceny Encompasses Different Types of Theft Charges and is a Felony

The second one, and this one encompasses a lot of different types of theft charges but, it is a felony. Grand larceny, grand larceny being just essentially … It could be anything from a Class 6 felony on many times other theft charges are set to be sentenced just like grand larceny once the person is convicted. For example, a person may be charged with embezzlement.

Embezzlement is Punished Using the Penalty Provisions for Grand Larceny

How they punish embezzlement is they go to the penalty provisions for grand larceny and use those. A grand larceny depends on exactly how it happened. If it is, for example, over $200 worth of property that a person takes that belongs to another that is the minimum requirement for grand larceny. If, on the other hand, that property is taken not just from another person, but actually taken from their person it doesn’t need to be $200. It could be as little as, say, $5. If you take it by force it wouldn’t necessarily matter what size it was. If you took it by force from the other person.

Robbery is Another Theft Charge With Added Sentencing Provisions

There’s another kind of theft charge which has added sentencing provisions to it and that is robbery. That is when you take something from a person, take it, not just from a person, but you take it from their person. If you use weapons or that sort of thing it really enhances it. If you take it using force or threat of force that really enhances the penalty provisions.

Another kind of embezzlement, and this one probably comes up as often as robbery does, is embezzlement. That is where you take property from a person who you’ve been entrusted with access to assets so, an employer. You take money that belongs to your employer. Or, let’s say you are watching out for somebody like your grandparents or somebody and because of that access, that trust access, you take money. That would be embezzlement. Those are the big ones. Those four. I mean they are not all big. Petty larceny is small, but the other three. Those four making up the four largest types of theft charges.

Shoplifting Commonly Occurs at Retail Places such as Shopping Malls

Interviewer: Where do people typically shoplift from? Where are some places they take from and what are the typical items that they do take?

Brian Geno: Probably the most common way to shoplift is at retail places. Malls, Wal-Mart, Target, retail stores. The goods are there for everyone to look at. You are supposed to be going in there and shopping for them and putting them in your cart or basket. Usually, the most common thing is to take products which are small that you can actually carry out of the store. Those are the most common ones. I am surprised sometimes why people would take the risk of stealing, say, a $40 item knowing that the consequence could be so severe. Why risk it for a $40 item or a $10 item. Certainly, why would you ever go into a 7-eleven and try to steal a can of soda or a bottle of beer? It is just so small to take that big risk.

Shoplifting is a Senseless and Mundane Offense

Those are the sorts of things that people are taking. It makes me conclude that the reason why people are doing it has nothing to do with them needing it but can’t buy it. It has more to do with trying to get away with something that is so mundane as paying. It doesn’t make sense to me. In that moment it doesn’t make sense to most of the people I encounter who are now charged with theft. They don’t really know why they did it.