Larceny (Petit and Grand): From Bubble Gum to Firearms
It’s the same story, told by many different adults. You have heard it, too. Those adults, back when they were kids, walked into a store and took some kind of small item – a pack of bubble gum, a lollipop, a candy bar, etc. (it always seems to be food, doesn’t it?) without paying for it. Most of them finish the story by saying that their parents found out. As soon as they did, those parents forced them to return it with an apology. The parental lesson involved? It is wrong to steal.
Definition of Larceny:
Larceny, according to the dictionary, is “the act of stealing something”. Any time something is taken from someone without their permission, it is larceny. From a legal perspective, it is nonviolent theft.
By itself, larceny is broken down into two further categories on the basis of value. What was the value of the item(s) stolen? In the Commonwealth of Virginia, that determines whether or not a person is charged with petit larceny or grand larceny.
Definition of Petit Larceny:
Petit (or petty) larceny occurs when anything is stolen that is less than $200 in value. If the item is stolen directly from a person, then it must be $5 or less in value. This means that, if the story at the beginning of this post is one that you can tell, stealing that candy bar is considered petit larceny.
In Virginia, this type of crime is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for petit larceny are a one-year jail sentence and a $2,500 fine. Of the two types of larceny, however, petit larceny is more desirable in nature than grand larceny.
Definition of Grand Larceny:
The General Assembly has defined grand larceny as the carrying out of one of these three types of acts:
- Taking something directly from a person that is worth $5 or more;
- Taking something that is worth more than $200 (e.g. cash, jewelry, art, etc.); or
- Taking a firearm of any value that belongs to someone else.
This definition helps to explain what you see or read in the news. For example, in Chesapeake, Virginia, a recent news article reported that authorities are searching for a man who stole about $450 worth of items, including a big-screen TV. The headline referred to the man’s actions as grand larceny. Why? Because the items totaled more than $200.
Penalties for Grand Larceny:
Grand larceny is a felony. The statutory penalty for grand larceny ranges from 1-20 years in prison.
There is often hope for those guilty of grand larceny to avoid a felony. Sometimes, depending on the Defendant's criminal history, the Commonwealth's Attorney will agree to reduce a grand larceny charge to petit larceny.
It is important to speak to a lawyer about your options before trial in order to fully protect your rights. Call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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