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What is petit larceny?

| Jan 11, 2019 | Criminal Defense |

A common charge to face here in Virginia after being accused of stealing is petit larceny. Petit larceny is one of the two main offenses that cover theft in state law. The other is grand larceny, which is the more severe of the two.

Whether a given theft would be petit or grand larceny depends on what was stolen.

Generally, under state law, theft of less than $500 of property is petit larceny.

There are some exceptions to this. One is the exception for firearms. In Virginia, stealing a firearm jumps up to grand larceny, whatever its value.

Another exception regards stealing money or goods directly off of a person, as these thefts have a different value threshold for determining whether they constitute petit or grand larceny. For these thefts, the value of what was stolen generally has to be under $5 to be petit larceny rather than grand larceny.

Now, just because it is the less severe of the two main theft offenses doesn’t mean that being accused petit larceny is just a minor thing. While petit larceny is a misdemeanor rather than a felony, it does fall into the most severe misdemeanor class. This is Class 1. So, a conviction of petit larceny can trigger significant consequences. For example, a person can be given a fine of up to $2,500 and sentenced to up to 12 months in jail.

So, a lot can be on the line for a person when he or she is facing charges of petit larceny. Skilled defense attorneys can assist individuals facing such charges with developing a defense strategy aimed at protecting their rights, interests, goals and future.