Major theft crimes are considered felony offenses in Virginia. This type of conviction can lead to employment issues, limited housing choices, and restrictions on obtaining security clearances. Because of the state’s three strikes rule a felony theft conviction could result in life imprisonment. Felony theft offenses are classified as grand larceny, robbery, or burglary. These offenses range in severity. Your criminal defense lawyer can review your charge with you, present likely outcomes for your case, and possible defenses that could successfully mitigate your penalties or have your charges dismissed.
Grand Larceny in Virginia
Virginia law defines grand larceny as taking $5 or more directly from a person, or $200 or more indirectly. While Virginia has no set statute that defines larceny, it does define larceny through court cases. Larceny involves taking property that has intrinsic value from another without their consent with the intent to steal it.
Penalties for Grand Larceny
Virginia Code §18.2-95 designates grand larceny an unclassified felony. The penalty is set at one to 20 years in prison and/or a $2,500 fine. However, the statute allows the judge or jury to limit the sentence to less than 12 months if they choose to.
Potential Defenses: There are two possible ways to defend against a grand larceny charge. You can argue intent or value. You can contend that you had no intent to steal said item, or that the owner gave or you believed he gave consent for you to take it. The second argument could be used to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. If your criminal defense lawyer can show that the item taken was less than $5 for a direct theft or $200 for an indirect theft the charge could be reduced to misdemeanor petit larceny.
Robbery as defined through court precedent in Virginia is a form of larceny that involves violence or the threat of violence. Using a gun to convince the store clerk to give you money is an example of robbery. However, a charge of robbery does not require the use of a weapon. Using intimidation to take a person’s property is also classified as a robbery. An example of robbery through intimidation is raising your fists to threaten your victim and convince him you intend bodily harm so that they will give you what you want.
Penalties for Robbery
Virginia Code §18.2-58 designates robbery an unclassified felony penalized by five years to life in prison. But, robbery is also designated in Virginia Code §19.2-297.1 as one of the violent offenses that counts toward the state’s “three strikes” rule. It is one of the listed offenses considered serious enough to result in a mandatory life sentence if convicted for a third time.
Potential Defenses: As with larceny the lack of intent to steal is one defense against a charge of robbery. A lack of violence or intimidation is another defense. However, the prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that violence or intimidation was used at the time of the theft. Without violence or intimidation the charge of theft is reduced to either petit or grand larceny depending on the value of the property stolen. If however, the charges of violence or the threat of violence is proven, you could also face charges of assault and battery in addition to the charge of robbery.
Burglary and Breaking and Entering
The judicial system has several statues that address the crime of burglary in Virginia. Burglary is entering a residence or a building without permission in order to commit a crime. Breaking and entering is part of the crime of burglar.
Penalties for Breaking and Entering
Entering a dwelling intending to commit arson, murder, rape or robbery is a Class 3 felony under Virginia Code § 18.2-90. A Class 3 felony is punishable by five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. If you were armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the burglary, the offense is a Class 2 felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Entering a building with the intent to commit a felony other than murder, rape, robbery, or arson is a burglary and the Virginia Code §18.2-91 sets the penalty at one to 20 years in prison, but allows a judge or jury to set your sentence at less than 12 months in jail. The charge for burglary rises to a Class 2 felony if you are armed with a deadly weapon at the time of the burglary.
Virginia Code § 18.2-92 makes entering an occupied dwelling to commit a misdemeanor a Class 6 felony punishable by one to five years in prison, or less than 12 months at the discretion of a judge or jury. Class 6 felonies also may be punishable by a maximum $2,500 fine. Just as before with the penalties above, if you were armed with a deadly weapon, the burglary becomes a Class 2 felony.
Entering a bank intending to commit larceny while armed with a deadly weapon is a Class 2 felony under Virginia Code § 18.2-93
Potential Defenses: As with the arguments for the other felonies lack of intent to commit either a felony or a misdemeanor when you enter a dwelling may be defense in a burglary charge. Another defense for a burglary charge is the absence of evidence of breaking and entering. Attorneys experienced with burglary cases can determine which argument provides the best defense for
Contact The Brown Firm PLLC For Representation
If you are facing a possible conviction for a major theft crime in Virginia – call The Brown Firm PLLC today. Our criminal defense attorneys are highly experienced in defending individuals in Virginia court proceedings. We offer free initial consultations so that you can discuss your case and make the best decision moving forward. Don’t risk going to court alone. Entrust your case our firm by calling or by contacting us online.