Virginia teens who are accused of shoplifting need to be aware that it is taken seriously and there can be significant long-term consequences if there is a conviction. Understanding the law and formulating a defense is therefore essential to stand a chance at avoiding the harshest punishments in the juvenile law system.
Under Virginia law, a person who conceals, takes, alters the price of goods, or helps another do so can be charged with shoplifting. Shoplifting, a type of larceny, has different penalties depending on the value of that which is alleged to have been taken. Merchandise that is worth less than $200 will lead to a charge of petit larceny. Merchandise that is worth $200 or more will be considered grand larceny. If a person conceals an item while on the premises, it will be viewed as evidence that the person intended to take it. Taking the property of an individual with the intent of never returning it to the owner is larceny. Petit larceny is when an item that is worth less than five dollars if it is taken from a person. If it is taken not from the person, it will be petit larceny if it is worth $200 or less. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Grand larceny can also occur if the item of value was taken from a person, rather than a business, and the value of that item is greater than five dollars. A conviction for grand larceny will result in incarceration for a minimum of one year and up to 20 years. The judge or jury has the discretion of sentencing the person to up to one year in jail, fining them of up to $2,500, or both. A second offense can lead to between 30 days and one year in jail. A third can result in up to five years in jail no matter the value of that which was taken.
There are other forms of larceny, including unauthorized use of a vehicle, embezzlement, burglary, and receiving stolen goods. Juvenile convictions for larceny can affect a person's ability to enter the military, obtain certain types of jobs, and get into a college or other school. For teens who are arrested for theft, having a strong legal defense is vital to avoid the potential negative long-term impact. A lawyer may be able to assist in crafting a compelling defense that seeks to protect a young individual's future.
Source: virginiarules.com, "Shoplifting," accessed on Sept. 3, 2017