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Virginia Governor Signs a Bill Doubling the State’s Grand Larceny Threshold—Will Be $1,000 for Felony Charge

Grand larceny is a serious criminal offense. Defined broadly as “theft above a certain amount”, grand larceny is a felony. This raises an important question: What is the value of the property that must be taken to be charged with grand larceny in Virginia? The answer is changing for the second time in the last two years.

For decades, Virginia’s grand larceny threshold was just $200—among the lowest in the entire nation. In 2018, lawmakers finally raised the grand larceny to $500. Recently. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill increasing the grand larceny threshold to $1,000. The new law takes effect on July 1st, 2020.

Virginia Law: Grand Larceny

In Virginia, larceny is essentially the crime of theft. Under Commonwealth law (Code of Virginia § 18.2-95), a defendant can be arrested for and charged with the crime of larceny if the following three elements are met:

  1. They took property belonging to another party;
  2. Without authorization/consent; and
  3. With the intent of permanently depriving the other party of use.

As was mentioned, Virginia is raising its grand larceny threshold from $500 to $1,000. Beginning July 1st, a defendant who is alleged to have stolen money/property valued at more than $500, but less than $1,000, may be charged with petit larceny instead of grand larceny.

Though it is only a misdemeanor offense, please know that petit larceny is still a serious offense. It is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

How to Defend Grand Larceny Charges in Northern Virginia

If you or your loved one was arrested for grand larceny, it is imperative that you take immediate action. Our top-rated Code of Virginia § 18.2-95 is standing by, ready to assist with your case and help you construct the most effective defense strategy.

To start, our attorneys will assess the charges and review the evidence. Remember, Virginia prosecutors have the burden of proving the charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is not strong enough to support a conviction, larceny charges must be reduced or dismissed. Additionally, there are affirmative defenses that can be raised in a grand larceny case. Notable examples include:

  • Reasonable Belief: A defendant who has a good faith belief that they owned property or had the right to use it is not guilty of grand larceny.
  • No Intent: In Virginia, the grand larceny statute requires intent to wrongfully and permanently deny the rightful owner of use of their property. Lack of criminal intent is a valid defense.
  • Duress: An act committed under duress—meaning it was forced by someone else—may not be a criminal offense.

Please note that the burden shifts when raising an affirmative defense. For example, if you are raising a lack of criminal intent as a defense, you have the burden of proving to the court the validity of that claim.

An aggressive defense strategy is necessary to get false or illegitimate charges dropped. Of course, that is not the correct approach in every case. In some circumstances, it is better to focus on getting charges reduced—thereby keeping a defendant out of jail and limiting the long-term adverse effects. For example, our Northern Virginia defense attorneys may be able to get felony theft charges reduced to misdemeanor charges.

Call Our Manassas, VA Criminal Defense Attorneys for Help

At Contact Family Law Group, Northern Virginia Law, P.C., our criminal defense lawyers have the skills, experience, and tenacity to represent clients facing grand larceny charges. If you or your loved one was charged with felony theft, we can help. To set up a fully confidential review of your case, please contact our legal team now. With law offices in Fairfax and Manassas, we represent clients throughout Northern Virginia, including in Tysons, Reston, Annandale, Falls Church, and Centreville.