Virginia Shoplifting Lawyer
Shoplifting is the act of a person taking a piece of merchandise from a retail facility that does not belong to them with the intention of permanently depriving that establishment of that merchandise. However, shoplifting is an ambiguous crime because someone can be charged with shoplifting even if they never left the store with the item they are accused of stealing. With so much at stake, it is important that you work with a qualified theft attorney who can get started in your case. If you have been charged with shoplifting, get in touch with a Virginia shoplifting lawyer who will work diligently to defend you.
The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person intentionally took possession of an item from a store that they had not paid for. They must prove that the person walked out of that store, passed what is called the last point of sale which is essentially where the cash registers are. A person does not necessarily have to make it out of the door; it is probably cleaner prosecution if the person makes it out the door, but if the person is technically passed the last point of the sale, then that plus the intent to do so and the intent to permanently deprive the establishment of the merchandise, does constitute the crime of shoplifting.
Differences Between Shoplifting and Larceny
Virginia does not have a separate and distinct crime for shoplifting. Shoplifting is punished under the larceny statute. Shoplifting is just one way that a person can violate that statute. The law concerning shoplifting is the same as the law for theft and basically, it just says the person is not allowed to take possession of any item with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that item of the benefit of that ownership.
Consequences of Shoplifting
The possible penalties depend entirely upon the value of the item or items taken. If the cumulative value of the items is less than $500, that constitutes a misdemeanor crime of petty larceny in Virginia which is punishable which as a Class One misdemeanor for up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. If a person is found guilty of stealing more than $500 worth of merchandise, then it is the felony that carries one to up to 20 years in prison.
The penalty for a Class One misdemeanor in Virginia which is misdemeanor shoplifting is up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. If a person is charged with the first offense of shoplifting and it is under $500, in most jurisdictions, the person is not going to get any jail time and in some jurisdictions, the person will but they certainly will not get anywhere near a year. There are possible penalties that might be available under Virginia law. A Virginia shoplifting lawyer can mitigate penalties that an individual faces.
For a second-time offender in Virginia, the person will get jail time in almost every single jurisdiction. It is still treated as a misdemeanor, it is just having that prior conviction which makes it less likely that the person will receive the benefit of a doubt with any court and any prosecutor and they probably will impose the act of jail time for a second offense.
There are two different ways that shoplifting can be considered a felony. The first and by far the most common is if a person steals an item or a series of items at one time, the value of which is over $500. However, a person can steal a pack of gum and still be considered a felony if the person has two prior larceny-related charges and convictions on their record.
Value of an Attorney
Someone convicted of shoplifting should look for an attorney that is intimately familiar with the jurisdiction where the person is charged. The lawyer does not have to be local, but it should be someone that practices regularly in that jurisdiction and knows what to expect from the prosecutors in the court when the person arrives on the day of the trial. The reason is that every jurisdiction does things differently.
Some jurisdictions will allow probation before a judgment and will allow a person to enter into a program where if they complete it successfully, they will be able to avoid a conviction all together whereas others demand jail time even for a first offense. Because there is such a disparity and how the law is treated in Virginia with shoplifting charges, the person needs to have an attorney who is familiar with the jurisdiction in which they are charged. If you have been charged with shoplifting, contact a Virginia shoplifting lawyer who can fight for you.