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petty larceny

Petty larceny. It is the most common type of property crime committed in the United States.

There are over five million reported cases of petty larceny throughout the country per year, making up 73% of all reported property crimes.

If you get charged with petty larceny, do not panic. You have options to get out of it and you can possibly receive a light sentence for it.

What should you do if you have a VA larceny charge? What are your options for getting out of it? What are the penalties?

Read on for a guide.

What Is Petty Larceny?

Petty larceny is when you commit minor theft against somebody else’s property. There are different types of larceny depending on what you take and how valuable it is.

In Virginia, petty theft is considered to be items or property taken that are valued at less than $1,000. If you take items or property that are valued at more than $1,000, then it becomes grand larceny.

Petty larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. The penalties that can come with this are a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year and jail, and compensation to the victim that you stole this property from.

Factors to Consider

Now, not every larceny case is going to be the same. Certain factors will be taken into consideration when you are facing fines and possible jail time for committing this act. These are some that you should be aware of.

What You Stole

The first thing that you need to take into consideration is what you stole from somebody else. How much you stole and what items you stole can determine what type of punishment you will receive in a court of law.

For example, let’s say you stole one bottle of whiskey from a liquor store that was worth $25. You are not likely to face any severe penalties for stealing something that had so little value.

However, let’s take it up a notch and say you stole 35 bottles of liquor from the store that were worth around $900. That can be looked at as a more intentional act and a more damaging act for the store owner.

They lost a much larger amount of their supply. Plus, the value is much greater.

Here, bigger fines and possible jail time could be on the table.

How You Stole It

Next, how you stole the items can be taken into consideration as well. One thing that you will have to question is if the items stolen were from a store or from someone’s home.

Stealing items from somebody’s home can be worse, especially if they were not there when you did it. Then, you could be looking at trespassing or breaking and entering charges.

However, if you stole an item from there while somebody invited you into their home, then that likely has fewer legal consequences.

The same can be said for stealing items from a store. Was the store open or closed when you stole the items? If it was the latter, you could be looking at breaking and entering on top of this if you were not supposed to be in the store.

Prior Record

When it comes to the court, they do not want to see you back in their court for the same offense. So, if you are someone that has been in court charged with petty larceny before, then you could be in for a harsher punishment if you are there for a second time.

Say you got away with a $500 fine and no jail time the last time you were charged with petty larceny. However, now, you do it again for the second time in a year.

The judge can look at you like you have not learned your lesson from the first time. So, to try to get the message through to you, they may charge you closer to the maximum fine and even potentially throw you in jail.

How It Affects You

So, how does getting charged with petty larceny impact your life? Well, the first thing is that it will make your wallet lighter.

Not only will you have to pay the victim back for the items that you stole, but you also will have to pay the fine that goes along with it plus potential lawyer fees.

The second thing it can do is make it tougher for you to find a job if you are convicted. The reason for this is that a petty larceny charge will show up on your criminal record.

Even if you do not go to jail, a lot of employers will want you to have a clean criminal record to work for them. This is especially the case if you are doing any job that centers around money.

Lastly, in extreme circumstances, you could spend time in jail. Although this is unlikely unless you have several petty larcenies on your record, it is still possible. If that happens, that is time that you will not get back, and you will lose your freedom for a few months.

Hire a Criminal Lawyer

If you are charged with petty larceny, you should seek legal representation and hire a criminal lawyer. A lawyer can provide you with legal counsel for your case, come up with a strategy for it, negotiate your penalties, and even keep you out of jail.

Do you need legal representation for your petty larceny charge? Message us today about your case.

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Violations
  • Reckless Driving
  • Felonies and Misdemeanors

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia, 1985
  • District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, 1985
  • U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims


  • University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
    • J.D. - 1985
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • B.A. magna cum laude - 1982
    • Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
    • Major: Economics & Philosophy
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