In Virginia, the crime of theft is called larceny. It is defined and taking the property of another without consent of the owner with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property.
- Grand larceny – the felony. It can be one of the 3 things: (1) taking things from a place worth $1000 or more; (2) taking things from a person worth $5 or more; (3) larceny of a firearm, regardless of its value.
- Petit larceny – Class 1 misdemeanor. (1) taking things from a place worth less than $1000 or (2) taking things from a person worth less than $5. The third petit larceny conviction gets upgraded to Class 6 felony and carries a mandatory 30-day minimum jail sentence.
Since the difference between a felony and misdemeanor charges is the value of the property taken, it is often possible to have a felony charged reduced to a misdemeanor when the value is uncertain.
Shoplifting is larceny from a store. You can be charged with shoplifting for walking out of the store with merchandise without paying or for defrauding the store of the value of the goods (altering price tags, for example). Depending on the value of the merchandise (the same $1000 threshold applies), it can be a misdemeanor or a felony.
The store’s security personnel have a right to detain you when they suspect you of shoplifting while waiting for police to arrive, but for no longer than 1 hour.
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