In the midst of this tumultuous election season, people are going to great lengths to support or fight against certain candidates for political office. Many people have posted political signs along the roadways, on their vehicles and in their front yards to show their support for candidates and encourage others to vote. However, it is important to note that destroying, defacing or stealing political signs is illegal and could result in serious consequences in the state of Virginia. Establishing a criminal defense to theft can be challenging, but if you are successful, you can protect yourself from serious penalties.
While stealing a sign may seem like no big deal, it is a crime that Virginia authorities take very seriously. In Virginia, stealing a political sign can be charged as petit larceny, a Class I misdemeanor. This could result in a $2,500 fine and up to one year in jail.
If you are accused of taking another person’s property, you may be facing charges of theft. In general, the prosecution will need to prove that you in fact took someone else’s property and that you had the intent to permanently deprive them of their property.
The severity of the theft (i.e. what type of property was stolen and the value of the stolen property) will determine the actual charges you will face. Petit theft typically refers to minor crimes involving property of modest value. Grand theft involves stolen property of a higher value. In any case, defending yourself against theft charges is essential if you want to avoid the consequences.
Source: Manassas Patch, “Stealing Political Signs a Crime: Manassas City Police,” Skip Wood, Oct. 11, 2016