Arlington County theft cases are governed by the statutes for Virginia. Any theft charge is a serious matter within the legal system, and there are penalties that can significantly affect the lives of those charged with this type of offense.
If you are charged with any form of theft in Arlington County, be it minor shoplifting or grand larceny, you need an attorney who can help you with your case and who will do so with the focus of minimizing any impact that case may have on your future.
An Arlington theft lawyer will have the experience and dedication to take. They will apply their local understanding of laws and court customs to your best advantage, and they will work aggressively to eliminate or reduce your charges.
Their history with Arlington County judges and prosecutors is a crucial benefit that should not be over-looked. And their demonstrated abilities both within and outside of the Arlington County court system will give you the peace of mind that you need as you prepare for your legal fight.
Forms of Theft in Virginia
The simple definition of theft is the intentional, unlawful taking of someone else’s property. Shoplifting, pick-pocketing, and similar actions are the offenses that most commonly come to mind; these types of charges are classified as larceny. Within that classification there are two subdivisions of larceny charges, listed below:
Grand larceny is either the theft of property off another’s person (e.g., wallet, purse, etc.) worth more than $5, a theft of property not on another’s person that has a value over $200, or any theft of a firearm. This kind of theft is classified as a felony and has certain penalties, if the charges are proven or admitted as true.
It is important to note that while grand larceny in the District of Columbia and most other jurisdictions can only be charged when the case involves property valued at over $1,000, the threshold is obviously much lower in Virginia. This means that even a simple act of shoplifting can possibly carry grave long-term penalties. The penalty for grand larceny can be an incarceration sentence of up to 20 years. Section 18.2-95.
Petit larceny, or “petty theft,” as it’s colloquially known, involves an alleged theft of property off another’s person (e.g., wallet, purse, watch, etc.) that has a value less than $5, or theft of property not from another’s person that has a value of up to $200. This is a lesser charge and can carry a penalty of up to one year in jail. Shoplifting is a petit larceny if the items taken from a store are valued at less than $200. Section 18.2-96.
First offenses for theft or larceny can result in sentences that are usually less severe. In Virginia, two previous misdemeanor offenses may qualify the third misdemeanor offense a felony.
What Happens When You Are Arrested
There are several steps that may occur after the original booking charges for larceny. A bond may be needed after an incarceration, if the charges get to this degree of severity. A bond can be given at the jail, or the shoplifter can be given a release on his or her own recognizance. This means that a hearing is scheduled, and the person with the theft accusations needs to appear at this hearing or they will face a failure to appear charge, which can bring further penalties.
You should contact a dedicated Arlington County theft attorney as soon as your hearing is scheduled, if not earlier. The attorney you choose should be familiar with the details of each charge and they will attend the hearing in order to provide a defense for the probable charges and to begin working on negotiating the elimination or, if that is not possible, a reduction in your charges. The earlier you contact an attorney, the quicker they can begin working on your behalf and protecting your interests.
Other Theft Charges
Though larceny is the most commonly-considered kind of theft charge in Virginia, it is by no means the only one. Below are a number of other actions that also qualify as theft in the Commonwealth:
- Purchasing or receiving goods you knew were stolen
- Unauthorized use of a vehicle
- Issuing a bad check
- Committing credit card fraud
- Committing welfare fraud
- And many more
Make Sure You Have a Arlington Theft Lawyer On Your Side
The defendant in a larceny case needs to ask certain questions about the specific charges that are being alleged. That is because the details of each theft case can open certain avenues for defense. Questions that you and your dedicated Arlington County theft attorney should pursue include whether the shopper intended to take an item out of the store and not pay for the item? Did the person who received certain stolen property know that the property was stolen? Was the alleged theft a simple oversight? Was the property allegedly taken worth more than $200?
There are certain defenses that can be used for probable theft charges. Programs are in place in Virginia that may allow certain offenders to keep their records clean after successfully completing a structured program approved by the courts. And a theft incident does not mean that a successful defense is not possible.
Arlington County theft attorney Steve Duckett can assist in providing a defense that helps his client get through his or her case with the best available outcome in the most cost-effective manner possible. Contact his Virginia office today to set up a free consultation and learn what options are open specifically to you under Virginia law.