Being charged with theft in Virginia is a crime that, depending on the severity, can put you in prison for up to 20 years or bring you thousands of dollars in fines. Stealing is divided into a few different charges, so knowing the potential consequences for each and how to build a solid defense is crucial.
If you have been charged with any sort of theft crime, you need an experienced theft lawyer in Richmond who can help you build your best defense. Trust the skills of our reputable criminal defense experts at the Pendleton Law Team to fight for your rights.
Theft Charges and Penalties in Richmond
In Virginia, not all theft is defined and classified in the same way. There are different types including:
Embezzlement is when someone that was entrusted to oversee property or merchandise steals it for personal gain. It is a felony offense punishable by up to 20 years in prison unless the value of the merchandise is less than $500. In that case, the penalty decreases to a maximum of 12 months in jail.
- Burglary involves forcefully breaking into a person’s home with the intent to commit a crime. It doesn’t always include stealing. According to Virginia Code § 18.2-89, burglary is considered a Class 3 felony. It is punishable by five to 20 years in prison and may consist of a $100,000 fine.
- Since being codified, the criminal act of larceny has two different levels and forms of punishment:
- When a perpetrator takes an item or money that is worth less than $5 or steals less than $1,000 worth of materials, this is considered petit larceny. It is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by jail time up to one year or a fine up to $2,500.
- If a person is convicted of grand larceny, it is because items over $5 worth of items were stolen or the stolen items were worth $1,000 or more. Stealing a gun also leads to a grand larceny charge. The penalty can be up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
Having previous convictions can impact the harshness of the penalty but a Richmond theft attorney can explain the differences in charges and discuss any penalty increases during a consultation.
Shoplifting is considered a form of larceny. It consists of taking goods or altering the price to avoid paying the full price. Concealing merchandise counts as attempting to steal and is punishable according to petit larceny or grand larceny standards.
- Robbery differentiates as it includes committing a violent act such as assault, or brandishing a weapon. It is considered a felony and penalties can range from five years to life in jail.
Under Virginia law, each criminal act has a different penalty. Factors that impact the penalty include the value of items stolen, the circumstances surrounding how the theft took place and if a weapon or violence was involved. Consult with a Richmond theft attorney for penalty clarification and whether your specific charge is a felony or misdemeanor.
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What if I Am Accused of a Theft Crime in Richmond?
If you are accused of stealing, you will want to immediately contact a criminal defense attorney. Our team has experience working in Richmond, and it is important that we start building your defense case right away. To best help you, we need to know all the facts of the crime for which you are accused.
We will meet with you to get the details of the crime, including the who, what, where, and how. It is also important that you understand the classification of the criminal offense and the assigned punishment. For example, burglary is punishable as a Class 3 felony. But if the person was armed with a deadly weapon, they could be found guilty of a Class 2 felony.
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Do I Need a Theft Lawyer?
At Pendleton Law, our criminal defense experts have dealt with many cases and helped many clients who have faced theft charges. When you’re facing this type of charge, there is no better team to have on your side.
A theft lawyer in Richmond will work with you to understand your unique situation. We work to build and present the best defense based on your particular crime. If you have a more severe charge that may require negotiation, we are adept in this situation and can work to get you a lesser charge.
When facing a theft charge, you do not want to go to court without an attorney experienced in Virginia theft laws. We will evaluate your case to determine how to best represent you in court.
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What Does the Prosecution Needs to Prove for a Theft Crime in Virginia?
In any theft case, it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove that the accused took something of value against the permission of the owner. It is important for the value of the item to be established, along with lack of consent or against the will of the property owner.
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Legal Defenses Against Burglary Charges
When convicted of a burglary offense, the average person may not be able to strategize a strong defense argument to protect their innocence. A reliable attorney may be needed to examine the case and offer legal protection using the following strategies:
Most burglars use masks or some form of coverage to shield their identity. It can be argued by your defense attorney that a clear view of the assailant was not possible and that there may be a mistake of fact in charging you.
Permission to use property or merchandise is not a crime. If the accused had consent through verbal agreement, bylaws, or anyone having the power to give permission, a theft charge like embezzlement has no grounds and can be dismissed.
Lack of Intent
The prosecution has to prove that a defendant had specific intent to commit theft. If this can not be proven, the accused can argue lack of intent and have the charges against them dropped.
Upon speaking to your theft attorney, a defense statement will be tailored to fit the details of your case. There are many different legal arguments available that can maximize your chances of being cleared or receiving a lesser charge.
Contact Our Richmond Criminal Defense Team Today
If you have been accused of theft, you need an experienced Richmond theft attorney who understands Virginia’s laws. The Pendleton Law team can help you develop your defense. Call us today or fill out our online contact form to speak with one of our theft lawyers.
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