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Property Crimes

    Property crimes are any crime that involves stealing, damaging, or trespassing on a property. Property crimes are extremely common here in Virginia. Each day hundreds of people are arrested for various property crimes in Virginia.

    Whether it is shoplifting, destruction of property, or burglary the Commonwealth of Virginia is strict on property crime.

    BURGLARY

    VA. Code 18.2-89: Common Law Burglary

    Common law burglary is an old and very technical crime. The common law burglary statute in Virginia is Va. Code 18.2-89:

    “If any person breaks and enters the dwelling house of another in the nighttime with intent to commit a felony or any larceny therein, he shall be guilty of burglary, punishable as a Class 3 felony; provided, however, that if such person was armed with a deadly weapon at the time of such entry, he shall be guilty of a Class 2 felony.”

    In order to be guilty of burglary a person must do the following things:

    1. Break and enter
    2. the dwelling of another
    3. at night
    4. with the intent to commit a felony or larceny

    If the burglary is committed while armed with a deadly weapon then there is a more serious punishment.

    What is Breaking and Entering?

    Breaking and entering into a house does not have to involve damaging or actually breaking anything. A person “breaks and enters” for purposes of burglary, if the defendant uses the application of physical force, however slight, to enter the dwelling.

    Opening a window, unlocking a door with the keys, or gently pushing open a door can be enough to count as “breaking and entering”. However, walking through a wide-open door does not count as breaking for the purposes of burglary.

    “Breaking and Entering” also requires some entering. Putting any part of your body into the dwelling counts as entering. So reaching an arm through a window is enough to count as entering.

    Dwelling House Defined:

    A dwelling house is any structure that human beings regularly use for sleeping. So businesses, sheds, or abandoned houses do not count as dwelling houses.

    To be burglary, the dwelling house must belong to another. So kicking down a roommate’s locked bedroom door does not count because only one room belongs to another, not the whole dwelling house.

    An attached garage is also part of a dwelling house and therefore entering an attached garage can count as entering a dwelling house.

    At Night:

    To be burglary under this statute the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the crime occurred after sunset but before sunrise.

    In cases where the defendant was not caught red-handed proving this element can be very difficult. In the typical burglary case, a homeowner returns home or wakes up and they find that they have been robbed.

    In those cases, it can be very difficult for the prosecution to prove that the burglary could not have happened during the day.

    Of course, robbing a house in the daytime is still a crime. Robbing a house in the daytime is just not burglary under Va. Code 18.2-89.

    Intent to Commit a Felony or Larceny:

    Breaking and entering into someone’s home is not burglary under this statute unless the would-be burglar enters into the dwelling with the intent of committing a felony or larceny crime.

    If I throw a rock through your window and enter your house so that I can vandalize property worth less than $1000 then I have not committed burglary under this law.

    If a would-be burglar is caught before they have a chance to commit a crime inside, proving a person’s intentions when they enter a house at night can be very difficult.

    To prove a defendant’s intentions the prosecution typically uses confessions or circumstantial evidence. An example of circumstantial evidence would be if a person is caught in a house with zip ties, duct tape, a hood, and a knife in their possession. Those items can be used as evidence that the burglar had the intention of abducting someone inside.

    Penalties for Burglary at Night:

    Violating Va. Code 18.2-89 (Burglary at Night) is a class 3 felony. Class 3 felonies come with 5-20 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

    Committing this same crime while armed with a deadly weapon is a Class 2 felony. Class 2 felonies come with up to 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

    If you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights. Felons cannot vote and cannot own guns in Virginia. A conviction can also affect your ability to get certain jobs, go to graduate school, get security clearance, join the military and may result in deportation.

    VA. Code 18.2-90: Statutory Burglary with intent to murder, rape, rob or commit arson.

    Statutory burglary is designed to fill some of the squirrely loopholes in Common Law Burglary (Va. Code 18.2-89).

    Va. Code 18.2-90 (Statutory Burglary with intent to murder, rape, rob or commit arson is the same level or felony with the same types of punishments as Va. Code 18.2-89 (Common Law Burglary).

    However, Va. Code 18.2-90 (Statutory Burglary with intent to murder, rape, rob or commit arson) is different from Va. Code 18.2-89 (Common Law Burglary) in the following ways:

    • Statutory burglary does not require breaking into a building if done at night
    • Statutory burglary can happen in the daytime if there is breaking and entering.
    • Statutory burglary applies to homes, permanent buildings, ships, railroad cars, trailers, and vehicles that someone lives in if done at night.
    • Statutory burglary applies to dwellings and adjoining occupied structures if done in the daytime.
    • Statutory burglary applies to “entering and concealing” not just “breaking and entering”.
    • Va. Code 18.2-90 requires the intent to murder, rape, rob or commit arson. (robbery is stealing items that are being held or worn by a person)

    VA. Code 18.2-91: Statutory Burglary with intent to commit a felony other than murder, rape, rob or arson.

    Statutory burglary under Va. Code 18.2-91 is less serious than statutory burglary under Va. Code 18.2-90 or common law burglary under Va. Code 18.2-89.

    Statutory burglary under Va. Code 18.2-91 is punishable with up to 20 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Or if the crime was committed while armed with a deadly weapon then the crime becomes a Class 2 felony. Class 2 felonies come with up to 20 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

    The difference between Va. Code 18.2-90 and Va. Code 18.2-91 is the intent. If the intent is to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson the burglar is guilty of Va. Code 18.2-90.

    Robbery is different than normal larceny because robbery involves stealing something that a person has in their immediate possession. You commit robbery when you steal something that is held, worn, or in the pockets of another person.

    If the burglar’s intentions were not to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson but instead to commit another felony or misdemeanor assault and battery then the burglar is guilty of violating Va. Code 18.2-91.

    The easiest way for the prosecution to prove intent is either by a confession or through the actions of the burglars. If a person breaks into a home and then robs the homeowners it can be inferred that the burglars committed the burglary with the intent to rob.

    Va. Code 18.2-91 is the statute that the prosecution uses when they cannot prove the time of day that the offense occurred or when they cannot prove any intent other than larceny.

    Check Fraud

    Issuing Bad Checks, Check Fraud, and Check Uttering

    There are several laws dealing with issuing bad checks and check fraud in the Commonwealth of Virginia:

    There are basically four types of check crime in Virginia:

    • Issuing worthless checks,
    • Forging Checks,
    • Uttering (or Using) Forged Checks, and
    • Possessing Forged Checks.

    Issuing worthless checks: Va. Code 18.2-181, 18.2-182, and 18.2-182.1

    Almost everyone has bounced a check at least once. What makes the writing bounced checks a crime is the intent to defraud.

    If a person writes a check with the intent to get goods or services knowing that the check will bounce, is evidence of intent to defraud.

    The problem is that it is very difficult for the prosecution to know what a person’s intent is. So Virginia law has created a shortcut for the prosecution.

    Va. Code 18.2-183 says that the court can presume that a defendant has the intent to defraud if:

    • The Defendant writes a check from a bank where they do not have an account, OR
    • If Defendant does not pay the total amount owed within 5 days of receiving a certified letter stating that the check bounced.

    The five-day deadline counts even if the certified letter is not actually read or received by the defendant as long letter is sent to the defendant’s actual address or to the address on the check.

    So the prosecution can prove a person had the intent to defraud if a person does not pay a bounced check within five days of a certified letter being sent to the address on the check.

    The prosecution can prove intent to defraud even without certified letters. The most common way the prosecution proves intent to defraud is by the defendant’s own statements.

    In most check uttering cases the defendant talks too much to the person they owe money. And during those conversations, the defendant lets slip something that can be used to prove that they knew the check would bounce.

    A common defense to writing bad checks is if the Defendant writing the check tells the person they owe money to that they do not yet have sufficient funds before giving them the check.

    For example, if I write you a bad check, but before I give you the check I tell you that I don’t have enough money in my account and I tell you to wait before cashing it, then this is a defense to writing a bad check because I did not hide the fact that the check was no good so there was no intent to defraud.

    Punishments for Writing Bad Checks

    Writing bad checks worth $200 or more is a class 6 felony with a maximum punishment of up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    Writing bad checks worth less than $200 is a class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for any form of check fraud can have serious effects on a person’s life. When an adult is convicted that conviction stays on their permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction for check fraud can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. A Felony conviction can result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    Check Forging & Uttering

    Check forgery is when a Defendant makes or alters a false check with the intent to defraud. This can mean making fake checks, altering a check without permission, forging someone’s signature or it can mean using someone else’s checks without permission.

    Check uttering is when a person tries to use a check that they know is forged.

    Check uttering and check forgery are the same crime in Virginia. Va. Code 18.2-170 outlaws the forgery or uttering of bank notes, coins, and checks.

    The penalty for forgery or uttering checks is the same. Both are class 4 felonies regardless of the value of the check forged or uttered.

    Check forgery or uttering comes with two to ten years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for check forgery or uttering stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction for check forgery or uttering can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. Conviction will also result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    Possession of Forged Checks

    Possessing forged checks is a serious crime if the person possesses the forged checks with the intent to utter them or to give them to someone else who will then utter them.

    Possessing ten or more forged checks is a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony comes with up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    Possessing less than ten forged checks is a class 3 misdemeanor. Class 3 misdemeanors are criminal convictions that come with no jail time but up to $500 in fines.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for possessing a forged check stays on your permanent criminal record forever regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction for possession of forged checks will also result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    Credit Card Crimes

    Credit/Debit Card Crimes

    There are a whole host of Virginia laws dealing with credit and debit cards.

    Credit Card Theft

    Virginia credit card laws apply to credit cards and debit cards. Gift cards, ATM cards, and other types of payment cards typically also apply to these laws.

    Credit card theft includes stealing the actual card or the card number. However, the Virginia credit card theft laws can be broken even without “stealing” anything.

    If a credit card or credit card number is accidentally delivered to you, or if you accidentally find it, but you keep the card or number with the intent to use it or give it to someone other than its owner then you can commit credit card theft.

    Buying or selling cards or card numbers without authorization is also called credit card theft in Virginia.

    Having two or more signed cards or card numbers that do not belong to you, is one way the prosecution is allowed to prove credit card theft.

    Because credit card numbers are treated the same as the actual cards, a person can be convicted of credit card theft for unlawfully taking a credit card number through the internet, from a receipt, from business records, or even just by writing it down.

    However, a person is not guilty of credit card theft if they were lawfully and purposefully given a card or card number by the owner but later illegally used it.

    For example, if your employer gives you a company credit card to buy gas for a company car and you use the card to buy fishing gear you have not committed credit card theft. Because the card was legally and purposefully given to you by the owner it was not stolen or illegally retained. The crime you committed was embezzlement, not credit card theft.

    Credit card theft is always a form of grand larceny regardless of the amount stolen or whether anything of value was bought with the card or not. This means that credit card theft is a felony and comes with up to 20 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for credit card theft stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    The single larceny doctrine does not apply to credit card theft or other credit card crimes in this chapter. This means that if a person steals multiple card numbers or cards at the same time from the same person, the Defendant can receive a separate conviction for each card or card number stolen.

    Credit Card Forgery

    Credit card forgery laws apply to debit cards as well as credit cards. Gift cards, ATM cards, and other types of payment cards typically also apply to this law.

    Credit card forgery is when a person commits any of the following acts with the intent to defraud:

    • Making a fake credit card,
    • Signing the back of someone else’s credit card,
    • Alters an otherwise valid credit card.
    • Creates a forged or false sales draft, withdrawal draft, or advance draft.

    Sales, withdrawals, and advance drafts are the paper or carbon copies of credit cards that were used before computerized credit card transactions became commonplace. Nowadays days were do not see very many forgery cases that involve this low-tech method.

    The most common forms of credit card forgery nowadays, involve altering the electronic data contained in the magnetic strip of a credit card.

    Credit card forgers will get a valid credit card for themselves and then switch the electronic information contained in their card’s magnetic strip with the information contained on another person’s card.

    The forged card appears exactly like their legitimate credit card, but when it is swiped the computer bills someone else’s card.

    This is why sales clerks ask us to give them the last four digits of our card at the store. They are checking that the number on the electronic strip matches the number on the face of the card.

    Conviction for credit card forgery is a class 5 felony. Credit card forgery comes with up to ten years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for credit card forgery stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    Credit Card Fraud

    A person is guilty of credit card fraud when the commits any one of the following acts:

    • Using a revoked or expired credit card/card number in an attempt to get something of value
    • Falsely claiming to be the owner of a credit card/ number and successfully getting something of value.
    • Successfully using a false card or false number to get something of value.
    • Obtaining control over a credit card or credit card number as a security for a debt.
    • Using your card to deliberately get more money than your credit limit or draft amount allows.
    • Sells goods or services to someone whom he knows is using a stolen card or card number.
    • Sells goods or services to someone whom he knows is using an expired or revoked credit card.
    • Reporting false sales to a credit card company.
    • Charging a credit card holder more money than they are authorized to charge.

    All of these forms of credit card fraud require intent to defraud. That means that have intent to commit fraud.

    If my friend gives me his credit card and tells me to go and get some milk from the store I am not committing credit card fraud because I am not intending to defraud anyone.

    The same rule applies to accidentally handing a store clerk an expired or revoked credit card.

    The court can draw conclusions about your intent from your behavior. If a person uses a false name and false address when purchasing goods with someone else’s credit card the court can interpret that as intent to defraud.

    Credit card fraud is different than other credit card crimes because many of the forms of credit card fraud require that the defendant actually get some goods or services.

    For example, if a defendant tries to use a credit card or credit card number that doesn’t belong to them but fails to get anything of value for their efforts then they have committed attempted credit card fraud but not actual credit card fraud.

    Credit card fraud’s punishment is also dependent on the value of the goods or services obtained by fraud within a single 6 month period.

    If the total value is less than $200 within a six-month period the credit card fraud is a class 1 misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

    If the value of the goods and services obtained by fraud is $200 or more within a 6-month period then credit card fraud is a class 6 felony with a punishment of up to 5 years in prison and $2,500.

    If anyone conspires to commit credit card fraud and any part of the fraud or the conspiracy takes place within Virginia then they are guilty of a class 6 felony regardless of the dollar amount or time period.

    Conspiracy to commit credit card fraud comes with up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for credit card fraud stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no expungements for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    Unlawful use of Credit Card Scanner or Re-encoder

    Anyone who scans or records another person’s credit or debit card without permission and who does it maliciously is guilty of this crime.

    This law is aimed at people who are using fob-style scanners or other electronic devices to grab data from people’s cards but it also outlaws clerks from double scanning someone’s credit card at a cash register.

    If all the person does is scan or recode the credit card the crime is a class 1 misdemeanor with up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

    If the Defendant distributes the stolen data to another person then the crime becomes a class 6 felony with up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    If the Defendant uses the stolen data in the commission of another crime then violating this law also becomes a class 6 felony with up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines. The most common way that data is used in committing crimes is in credit card fraud or credit card forgery.

    A common example of this is when a person uses a scanner to steal someone’s credit card data and then they use the stolen data to re-encode their own credit card with someone else’s data and go on a spending spree. This is an example of using stolen data to commit credit card forgery and credit card fraud.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for unlawful use of a credit card scanner stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no expungements for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in the loss of certain civil rights; such as gun ownership and voting rights.

    Receiving Goods and Services Obtained By Credit Card Fraud

    If a person receives goods or services knowing or believing that those goods or services were paid for by credit card fraud then they are guilty of this crime.

    Some of the common examples of this crime include:

    • Receiving gifts from a friend who you know has been buying things with a stolen card.
    • Buying unreasonably cheap new items from someone you know is stealing or using stolen credit cards.
    • Shady “work from home” jobs where people send you items purchased with stolen credit cards and you then mail them and distribute the goods to others.
    • Police will charge someone with this crime when they are caught with items they bought in another jurisdiction with a stolen credit card.

    This crime is often a difficult crime for prosecutors to prove because it requires proving that the defendant knew the goods or services were obtained by credit card fraud.

    It is not enough to prove that the goods or services were too cheap to be legitimate. The prosecution must prove that the Defendant knew the goods or services were obtained not by any type of fraud, but specifically credit card fraud.

    The punishments for this crime are determined by the total value of the goods or services received within a 6 month period. If the total value is less than $200 then this crime is a class 1 misdemeanor which comes with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

    If the value of all the goods and services within the 6 months period is worth $200 or more than this crime is a class 6 felony and the maximum punishment is 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for this crime stays on your permanent criminal record forever. There are no expungements for any criminal convictions in Virginia.

    Conviction can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A felony conviction will also result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

    If you have a pending credit card case or have been accused of a credit card crime, call Nichols & Green PLLC for a free consultation. (703) 383-9222.

    Destruction of Property

    Vandalism, Destruction of Property, & Tampering

    Destruction of property is the second most common property crime in Virginia, second only to shoplifting/larceny. Destruction of property encompasses a wide variety of criminal behavior. Vandalism, illegally removing property, destroying property, or tampering with property is all covered under the destruction of property law in Virginia.

    Facing destruction of property charges? Call (703) 215-1114 for the legal guidance you deserve.

    Destruction of Property Charges

    Va. Code 18.2-137 (Destruction or Injury of Property) outlines that damaging, defacing, or destroying any real or personal property of another person is a crime. In Virginia, charges for destruction of property vary depending on the value of the property and your intent.

    Destruction of property charges in Virginia include:

    • Intentional Destruction of Property Less Than $1,000: Intentionally destroying property that is worth less than $1,000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.
    • Intentional Destruction of Property Greater Than $1,000: Intentionally destroying property that is worth $1,000 or more is a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2,500.
    • Unintentional Destruction of Property (“Unlawful Damage”): Unintentionally, but unlawfully, destroying property of any value is a Class 3 misdemeanor no matter what the value of the property is. This type of destruction of property is a criminal offense, with a maximum fine of $500.

    Accidental Damage

    Whether or not the damage to property was intentional is a very important fact. In order to charge someone with the two most serious forms of destruction of property, the prosecution must prove that the damage was intentional.

    If the damage was not intentional, the defendant may still be guilty of the least serious form of destruction of property if the damage was “unlawful”.

    Unlawful damage means damage that is caused by the commission of an unlawful act or damage that is caused in a criminally negligent manner. Some examples of unintentional but unlawful damage include:

    A car accidents caused by reckless driving.

    Throwing objects out a window without looking and and damaging a car parked on the street below.

    Playing around with a loaded pistol and accidentally shooting a hole through your neighbor’s property.

    Proving Intent

    In most cases, the prosecution needs to prove that the destruction or damage was caused intentionally. Proving intent to damage property can be accomplished by the actions of the defendant.

    For example, if a defendant spray paints his name into the side of a car the judge can presume that it was done intentionally because of the nature of the destruction.

    However, if the destruction was caused in a way that is not obviously intentional, then the most common way that the prosecution proves intent is through a confession or statement made by the defendant.

    Proving the Value of Property

    You cannot be convicted of felony destruction of property unless the prosecution can prove that the value of the damage is $1,000 or more.

    Proving the cost of damages can be difficult in some cases. The prosecution must bring a witness who has first-hand knowledge of the actual cost of the damages.

    If the property is utterly destroyed the cost of the damage is the replacement value of the property. If the property is not totaled then the repair cost is the measure of the damages.

    If the prosecution’s witness does not have firsthand knowledge regarding the cost of the damages then the prosecution may not be able to prove felony destruction of property.

    Here are some common examples of when a prosecution’s witness will be unable to testify regarding the cost of certain damage:

    Example 1: The prosecution’s witness is the owner of a car that was vandalized and repaired. The owner’s wife was the one who took the car to the dealer and paid for the repairs.

    At trial the owner may be barred from testifying as to the value of the repairs because he does not have first-hand knowledge of their costs. Without the wife to testify the prosecution may not be able to convict for felony destruction of property.

    Example 2: A shed is spray-painted with graffiti. The owner of the shed claims that it will cost $1200 to repair the shed. The owner has not repaired the shed yet and has only gotten an estimate from a handy man.

    The court will not likely allow the shed’s owner to testify to the handy man’s opinion regarding the estimated cost of repairs because the estimate is a guess and because the estimate is not based on the witness’s first-hand knowledge.

    Example 3: A witness testifies sold his car for $5,000 after it was damaged. However, the witness does not know whether the car can be repaired or how much it would cost to repair the car.

    This testimony is insufficient to prove felony destruction of property because it may have cost less than $1,000 to repair the damage to the car.

    Restitution

    A judge has the authority to order that a defendant pay restitution to the victims of a destruction of property crime. Restitution goes to the victims rather than the court, and the law does not limit the dollar amount that a judge can order you to pay.

    Restitution is typically only for the repair cost or replacement cost of the item damaged.

    Paying close attention to the restitution requests of the victims is very important. Many victims try to use the court process as an opportunity to get more money than they are entitled to.

    Defendants should not have to pay restitution for anything other than the replacement cost or repair cost of the item that was destroyed. Pain and suffering, emotional damage and other expenses should not be included.

    So for example, if you a convicted for destroying a person’s car, the restitution payments should not include the cost of a rental car or taxis while the car is in being replaced.

    If you are charged with unintentional destruction of property, and the court receives proof that the defendant has already paid full restitution to the victim, then the judge is allowed to dismiss the case if the judge wants to.

    Before paying restitution prior to trial, talk to an attorney. Many defendants have been convicted or made their case worse because they talked to the victim while trying to pay restitution. An attorney can help you pay restitution without exposing you to any legal risks.

    Consequences of Destruction of Property

    All destruction of property charges are criminal offenses. A conviction for destruction of property will result in a permanent criminal record for all adults and for some juvenile cases as well.

    If you are convicted of destruction of property you can never get an expungement of your conviction in Virginia.

    Destruction of property charges may result in serious immigration consequences, including deportation. Security clearance, professional licensing, application to schooling or jobs may also be affected by a conviction.

    Unintentional destruction of property will result in up to a $500 fine and a criminal conviction.

    Intentional destruction of property worth less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor and can result in up to 12 months in jail, $2,500 in fines.

    Intentional destruction of property worth less $1,000 or more is a felony and can result in up to 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines. Felony convictions will result in loss of certain civil rights as well, such as voting and gun ownership.

    VA. Code 18.2-146 Tampering with a Vehicle.

    There is a special form of destruction of property that applies only to vehicles, boats and aircraft. The law states the following:

    “Any person who shall individually or in association with one or more others willfully break, injure, tamper with or remove any part or parts of any vehicle, aircraft, boat or vessel for the purpose of injuring, defacing or destroying said vehicle, aircraft, boat or vessel, or temporarily or permanently preventing its useful operation, or for any purpose against the will or without the consent of the owner of such vehicle, aircraft, boat or vessel, or who shall in any other manner willfully or maliciously interfere with or prevent the running or operation of such vehicle, aircraft, boat or vessel, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

    Tampering with a vehicle is very similar to the destruction of property laws with the following exceptions:

    • Removing parts, tampering or preventing the operation of the vehicle violates this law.
    • The prosecution does not have to prove the value of the damage.
    • All tampering cases are a class 1 misdemeanor which means they are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

    Embezzlement

    The crime of embezzlement is found in Virginia law under code section VA Code 18.2-111. The legal definition of embezzlement under Virginia law is as follows:

    “If any person wrongfully and fraudulently use, dispose of, conceal or embezzle any money, bill, note, check, order, draft, bond, receipt, bill of lading or any other personal property, tangible or intangible, which he shall have received for another or for his employer, principal or bailor, or by virtue of his office, trust, or employment, or which shall have been entrusted or delivered to him by another or by any court, corporation or company, he shall be guilty of embezzlement.”

    This complicated and long winded definition of embezzlement can be broken down into five elements:

    1. The defendant must have a “trust” relationship with the victim (such as an employee or agent).
    2. That property came into the defendant’s  possession or care because of that trust relationship
    3. The property belongs to someone other than the defendant
    4. The defendant hid, stole or transferred the property without permission
    5. The defendant hid, stole or transferred the property with the intent to steal.

    The biggest difference between embezzlement and classic larceny is that larceny involves taking possession of something without any permission. Embezzlement involves stealing something that you had permission to have but did not own.

    Some classic examples of embezzlement include:

    • A store cashier putting customers’ money in their pocket.
    • An accountant spending his client’s money instead of paying the client’s taxes.
    • An employee stealing office supplies or equipment.
    • A store clerk taking merchandise home with them.
    • An employee purposely damaging merchandise so that they can take it home or buy it cheaper.
    • A manager using the company credit card to make unauthorized purchases for himself.

    Does the Defendant have a special trust relationship with the victim?

    Embezzlement must involve breaching a special trust relationship that we call a fiduciary. A fiduciary relationship is a business relationship where one party trusts the other to act with complete loyalty and integrity in regards to that business transaction.

    Most embezzlement cases involve the fiduciary relationship between employees and employers. However, there are other types of fiduciary relationships. Accountants, lawyers, stock brokers, wealth managers, managers of a trust all have a fiduciary relationship with their clients.

    One of these special fiduciary relationships must exist between the defendant and the victim for larceny to become embezzlement.

    Was Contact With The Property Part of the Trust?

    Embezzlement must involve stealing something that was entrusted to the defendant as part of their job or fiduciary relationship with the victim.

    For example, if cashier pockets money from the till, that is embezzlement because handling the money in the cash register is part of the job.

    However, if the same cashier steals money from a coworker’s wallet this is plain larceny not embezzlement because handling the coworkers’ money is not part of the employment.

    Did The Property Belong to Someone Else?

    When dealing with corporations, business and their agents it can be hard to sort out who actually owns the property.

    If you give $500 to an accountant to prepare your taxes and he takes the money and runs away, he has not committed embezzlement because the money belonged to the accountant.

    However, if you give $500 to your accountant with instructions to use the money to pay your taxes, and then the accountant runs away with the money that is embezzlement because the money did not belong to the accountant. The accountant had possession of the tax money but he did not own the money.

    Did the defendant actually hide or take the property?

    When property disappears from an employer it can be hard to prove who took it. Without a confession or being caught “red-handed” most embezzlement cases can be very speculative.

    Proving that a specific employee could have stolen the property is not enough, the court must prove that the property was actually stolen and that no one else could have done it.

    Even if the police can prove that a defendant embezzled some money or products, there is often difficultly proving how much was taken.

    Employers routinely lose money, supplies and merchandise through accidents, accounting errors, shoplifting and other incidents. When an employee gets caught embezzling the employer is often tempted to then blame all account and inventory discrepancies on the embezzler.

    Did the defendant intend to steal?

    Losing, taking, destroying, damaging your employer’s property is not embezzlement unless you had the intent to embezzle.

    Accidents and mistakes are not embezzlement even if they are very stupid mistakes. For example: If an employee accidentally loses $5,000 in bank deposits on the way to the bank that is not embezzlement.

    One of the classic ways that the court proves or disproves an intent to embezzle is by whether the defendant benefited or expected to benefit from the act.

    For example, if a bank teller gives a customer an extra $100 bill, that is probably just an accident and not embezzlement. But if that customer is the bank teller’s boyfriend and they later split the money, that financial benefit may be used to prove a guilty intent.

    Embezzlement is Punished the Same as Larceny

    Embezzling property worth $200 or more is a grand larceny and is a felony. Felony embezzlement is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison and $2,500.

    Embezzling property worth less than $200 is punished the same as petite larceny and is a class 1 misdemeanor the first time you are convicted. This means that the maximum penalty for misdemeanor embezzlement is up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines.

    A second conviction for misdemeanor embezzlement or being convicted of embezzlement with a prior larceny type offense on your record comes with a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of 12 months.

    A third conviction for misdemeanor embezzlement or being convicted of embezzlement with two or more prior larceny type offenses on your record is a class 6 felony and comes with up to 5 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for any form of embezzlement can have serious effects on a person’s life. When an adult is convicted that conviction stays on their permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for any embezzlement convictions in Virginia.

    Conviction for embezzlement can effect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, professional licensing and can result in deportation. A Felony conviction can result in loss of certain civil rights; such as, gun ownership and voting rights.

    The Single Larceny Rule Applies to Embezzlement:

    When a person is caught stealing multiple items there is questions regarding how many crimes are committed.

    For example, if I am a cashier and I steal three $100 bills from the cash register did I commit one $300 felony embezzlement or three $100 misdemeanor embezzlements?

    The “single larceny doctrine” is a rule that governs when stealing or embezzling multiple items becomes one crime or multiple crimes. The single larceny doctrine states that stealing multiple items is one crime when the embezzler committed the embezzlement as part of a single act and a single intent.

    The court will weigh the following factors in determine whether the single larceny doctrine applies:

    • the location of the items embezzled
    • the lapse of time between the takings
    • the intentions of the thief
    • the number of owners impacted, and
    • whether intervening events occurred between the takings

    Here are some real examples of when the single larceny doctrine does and does not apply:

    • Stealing two purses, owned by two people from the same location at the same time was a single larceny.
    • Stealing a purse, a radio, and a wallet from different people at different locations within a hospital all on the same day constituted three separate larcenies.
    • Embezzling from a church five times over 25 months is five separate crimes when each time the defendant intended that theft to be his last.
    • Stealing jewelry for money, a rifle for protection, and a car in order to escape, all at the same home, from the same owner, at about the same time were three separate larcenies because they were each part of a separate intent or plan.

    Grand Larceny

    What is Grand Larceny?

    Grand larceny is the more serious of the two types of larceny. Grand larceny is a felony in Virginia. Grand larceny is defined in Virginia law under VA. Code 18.2-95:

    “Any person who (i) commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more, (ii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of $200 or more, or (iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm’s value, shall be guilty of grand larceny, punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than twenty years or, in the discretion of the jury or court trying the case without a jury, be confined in jail for a period not exceeding twelve months or fined not more than $2,500, either or both.” 

    So basically there are three ways to be convicted of grand larceny:

    • Stealing an item from the person of another that is worth $5 or more.
    • Stealing an item worth $200 or more. OR
    • Stealing a firearm regardless of its value.

    Stealing from “the person of another” means taking something that is in the possession or control of another. For example, if I grab a $10 bill out of your hand, I am committing grand larceny because the money is more than $5 and it was in your possession. If I grab the same $10 bill from off the table while it is a few inches in front of you, I am also committing grand larceny because the money was in your custody and is worth more than $5.

    However, if I took $10 from off the table while you stepped out of the room that would be petite larceny, not grand larceny. When the owner of the $10 bill steps out of the room, the $10 bill left on the table is no longer in their possession or custody.

    Most forms of Grand larceny involve stealing something worth $200 or more. The law requires that the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt the value of the item stolen otherwise the crime is only petite larceny.

    The value of stolen property means the market value or retail value at the time of the offense. So if the item is used, it is the value of the item if it was sold used not the value at the time it was originally purchased. And no, you can’t use coupons or special sales to discount the value below $200.

    Often, it can be difficult for the prosecution to prove that the stolen property was worth $200 or more. The prosecution must bring a witness to court who can testify to the market value of the property.

    In order for a witness to testify regarding the value of an item, the witness must either have firsthand knowledge of the item’s retail value or must have some expert knowledge on the subject.

    What are the Penalties for Grand Larceny?

    Grand larceny is a felony and conviction stays on your permanent criminal record forever. Adults cannot have a criminal conviction expunged from their record in Virginia.

    If you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights. Felons cannot vote and cannot own guns in Virginia. A conviction can also affect your ability to get certain jobs, go to graduate school, get security clearance, join the military and may result in deportation.

    If you are convicted of grand larceny the judge or jury can sentence you to up to 20 years in prison and fine you up to $2,500. You can also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim.

    However, just because the judge can put you in jail does not mean that the judge will put you in jail. To find out what the likely outcome of your grand larceny case may be call Nichols & Green PLLC (703) 383-9222 for a free consultation. Our lawyers handle hundreds of criminal cases in Northern Virginia and we will be happy to talk to you about the likely outcome of your case. Our attorney will also discuss what defenses you may have and what you can do to prepare for your trial.

    Identity Theft and Forgery

    Va. Code 18.2-186.3 is the law that governs identity theft. Identity theft is one of the more complex property crimes.

    What is Identifying Information?

    At the heart of this crime is the term “Identifying information” which is any of the following information:

    • (i)                 name;
    • (ii)               date of birth;
    • (iii)             social security number;
    • (iv)             driver’s license number;
    • (v)               bank account numbers;
    • (vi)             credit or debit card numbers;
    • (vii)           personal identification numbers (PIN);
    • (viii)         electronic identification codes;
    • (ix)             automated or electronic signatures;
    • (x)               biometric data;
    • (xi)             fingerprints;
    • (xii)           passwords; or
    • (xiii)         any other numbers or information that can be used to access a person’s financial resources, obtain identification, act as identification, or obtain money, credit, loans, goods, or services.

    Identity Theft Generally:

    There are three different identity theft crimes that all deal with illegally using identifying information. The first type of identity theft crime states:

    “A. It shall be unlawful for any person, without the authorization or permission of the person or persons who are the subjects of the identifying information, with the intent to defraud, for his own use or the use of a third person, to:

    1. Obtain, record, or access identifying information that is not available to the general public that would assist in accessing financial resources, obtaining identification documents, or obtaining benefits of such other person;

    2. Obtain money, credit, loans, goods, or services through the use of identifying information of such other person;

    3. Obtain identification documents in such other person’s name; or

    4. Obtain, record, or access identifying information while impersonating a law-enforcement officer or an official of the government of the Commonwealth.”

    In order to be guilty of identity theft the prosecutor must prove that the defendant committed one of the four acts listed above. And that they stole information that falls into one of the 13 categories of “identifying information” listed above.

    Committing this type of identity theft crime is a class 1 misdemeanor if it is a first offense and the total financial loss to the victim is less than $200.

    Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 maximum fine.

    If a person commits a second offense or if the theft causes $200 or more of financial loss to the victim then it is a class 6 felony.

    Class 6 felonies are punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    Identity theft with Intent to Sell or Distribute:

    The second form of identity theft crime involves identity theft with the intent to sell or distribute the stolen identification information. The law states:

    “B. It shall be unlawful for any person without the authorization or permission of the person who is the subject of the identifying information, with the intent to sell or distribute the information to another to:

    1. Fraudulently obtain, record, or access identifying information that is not available to the general public that would assist in accessing financial resources, obtaining identification documents, or obtaining benefits of such other person;

    2. Obtain money, credit, loans, goods, or services through the use of identifying information of such other person;

    3. Obtain identification documents in such other person’s name; or

    4. Obtain, record, or access identifying information while impersonating a law-enforcement officer or an official of the Commonwealth.”

    Violating this law is a class 1 misdemeanor if the information of less than 5 people was stolen and the financial loss to the victim was less than $200.

    Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 maximum fine.

    This type of identity theft becomes a class 6 felony if the financial loss to the victims was $200 or more OR if the defendant has been convicted of identity theft in the past.

    Class 6 felonies are punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    This type of identity theft becomes a class 5 felony if the defendant steals information belonging to five or more people.

    Class 5 felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    This type of identity theft becomes a class 4 felony if 50 or more people have their information stolen by the same defendant.

    Identity Theft to Avoid Arrest or Prosecution:

    There is also a third type of identification theft that involves using other people’s identities to try to avoid arrest, traffic tickets, prosecution or to avoid a criminal investigation.

    “It shall be unlawful for any person to use identification documents or identifying information of another person, whether that person is dead or alive, or of a false or fictitious person, to avoid summons, arrest, prosecution, or to impede a criminal investigation.”

    Committing this type of identity theft crime is a class 1 misdemeanor if it is a first offense and the total financial loss to the victim is less than $200.

    Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 maximum fine.

    If a person commits a second offense or if the theft causes $200 or more of financial loss to the victim then it is a class 6 felony.

    Class 6 felonies are punishable by a maximum of 5 years in prison and $2,500 in fines.

    If the victims of this type of identity theft were actually arrested and detained because of the defendant’s actions then this type of theft becomes a class 5 felony.

    Class 5 felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    Restitution

    If a defendant is found guilty of identity theft, the court shall order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim. The restitution can include money stolen and actual expenses for repairing a person’s credit report. This can include legal fees. Restitution can be paid to a person’s estate if the victim is dead.

    Identity Theft Defenses:

    Most forms of identity theft can be hard to prove without a confession. Proving how a person obtained information can be hard. Additionally, most cases require the victim to be present in court. In the age of the internet, many forms of identity theft occur with the victim and the thief far away from each other. Getting those victims to court can be difficult.

    The most common form of identity theft that is prosecuted in state courts is when people use false information to try to avoid arrest or conviction.

    In these cases, typically a person is stopped and investigated for an unrelated charge and the suspect gives the police a false social security number, a fake ID or a fake name a fake date of birth, etc. The police eventually find out the lie and the person is charged with identity theft.

    This form of identity theft is so much easier to prove because you do not need to prove how the information was obtained and you usually don’t need to bring the victim to court. Additionally, the police officer was there to witness the whole thing so the prosecution does not have to rely on civilian witnesses.

    Often the hardest part to prove about this case is whether or not the information belongs to another person. The police need to prove that the name, date of birth, social security number, etc. actually belong to a separate human being and were not just randomly picked numbers or names. Also, the police need to prove that the identity belongs to another person and is not just a fake ID that the defendant created.

    For example, If John Smith is pulled over by the police and he hands the police officer a driver’s license with the name Mark Jones how does the officer prove that Mark Jones is a real person? Mark Jones is a common name, so how do they prove that the identifying information belongs to a specific Mark Jones and not a make-believe Mark Jones?

    If a suspect signs a summons or ticket using a fake name they are committing the additional crime of forgery of a public document even if they may or may not be committing identity theft. 

    Petty Larceny

    What is Petty Larceny (Petit Larceny)?

    Any larceny that is not grand larceny is petit larceny. Petit larceny (or petty larceny) is a misdemeanor and is defined under Va. Code 18.2-96. Va. Code 18.2-96 states:

    “Any person who: 1. Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of less than $5, or 2. Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of less than $200, except as provided in subdivision (iii) of § 18.2-95, shall be deemed guilty of petit larceny, which shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

    Stealing property worth less than $5, when that property is in a person’s possession or custody is petit larceny. Stealing any property worth less than $200 is also petit larceny.

    If the prosecution cannot prove the value of an item stolen, the court may still find the defendant guilty of petit larceny.

    Petty larceny is a class 1 misdemeanor. This means that the maximum penalty for petite larceny is up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in fines. However, just because those are the maximum penalties does not mean that you will be sentenced to 12 months in jail.

    An experienced criminal defense attorney should be able to give you a relatively accurate prediction of the likely outcome of your case after they have had a chance to discuss the facts of your case.

    Conviction for any form of petit larceny can have serious effects on a person’s life. When an adult is convicted that conviction stays on their permanent criminal record forever. There are no exponents for petit larceny convictions in Virginia.

    A conviction for petite larceny can affect job applications, security clearance, applications to graduate school, and professional licensing and can result in deportation.

    Petit Larceny 2nd Offense

    If a Defendant has a prior conviction for any type of larceny in Virginia or another state, then the Defendant may be charged with Petit Larceny 2nd Offense.

    The punishments for petit larceny 2nd offense are found in Va. Code 18.2-104. These punishments include a minimum jail sentence of 30 days and a maximum of 12 months.

    If you are charged with petit larceny 2nd offense the prosecution must prove that you were in fact convicted of a prior larceny offense and that the conviction met certain criteria.

    If your prior larceny charge was from another state, the prosecution may have trouble getting official copies of the documents proving your conviction. Proof of a prior conviction has to be submitted to the court in a very specific format otherwise it cannot be used as a prior conviction.

    Petit Larceny 3rd Offense

    Petit larceny 3rd offense is a class 6 felony. This means that a person can receive up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    A 3rd offense of petit larceny is a felony, so anyone convicted of petit larceny on 3rd offense will lose certain civil rights such as voting and gun ownership.

    Nichols & Green PLLC Defense Petit Larceny Cases in Northern Virginia

    If you are in Northern Virginia and have been charged with petit larceny (petty larceny) call Nichols & Green PLLC for a free and confidential consultation at (703) 383-9222. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Green have defended hundreds of criminal cases in Northern Virginia and are the authors of Defending Virginia Property Crimes. During your consultation, these criminal defense lawyers will be happy to share their knowledge and experience with you.

    Possession of Stolen Property

    Every year, Garrett Green defends hundreds of people from criminal charges in Northern Virginia. Property crimes are a particular area of focus for them. Not only do these lawyers have ample experience protecting people charged with property crimes, but they are also the authors of the book: Defending Virginia Property Crimes.

    If you have been charged with receipt of stolen property or any other property crime in Virginia, call Nichols & Green PLLC for a free consultation. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Green are happy to talk to you about your case and to explain what defenses you may have. Call today to schedule a free consultation in person or over the phone at (703) 383-9222.

    Possession, Receipt, or Sale of Stolen Property

    There are several state laws that govern the receipt and possession of stolen property:

    Va. Code 18.2-108 (receiving stolen goods);

    • Va. Code 18.2-108.01 (sale of stolen property);
    • Va. Code 18.2-108.1 (receipt of stolen firearms);
    • Va. Code 18.2-109 (possession of a stolen car, boat, etc.)

    Va. Code 18.2-108: Receiving or Possessing Stolen Property

    To convict a defendant for receiving stolen property, the prosecutor must prove that the property was:

    • previously stolen by another person, and
    • that the defendant bought, received, or aided in concealing stolen property.
    • with knowledge of the theft, and
    • a dishonest intent.

    One of the unique things about the crime of receiving or possessing stolen property is that the prosecution must prove that you were not the person who stole the property.

    Proving this is usually pretty easy because when the police find the stolen property, defendants are anxious to tell the police that they did not steal it. However, without these statements, it is often difficult to prove that the person in possession of stolen property was not also the thief.

    Proving that a person received, bought, or concealed stolen property requires that a person exercise dominion and control over the stolen property.

    If a friend leaves a stolen cell phone in your car without your knowledge, you are not in possession of that stolen phone even though it is your car.

    If the police find stolen property in your home or car they need some evidence that proves you knew the property was there or that you were exercising control over the item.

    The most common defense to receipt of stolen property crimes is that the defendant did not know the property was stolen. The prosecutor must prove that the person knew the property was stolen.

    Without a confession, the police and prosecutor will often have to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove knowledge. Some examples of circumstantial evidence include:

    • Purchasing the stolen property for ridiculously low prices.
    • Having or purchasing other stolen property in the past or at the same time.
    • Buying random items from a known thief.
    • Items with security tags still on them or
    • Buying a car with its ignitions broken by a screwdriver and no title.

    The dishonest intent requirement means that you did not possess the property in order to return it or find the owner. Purchasing the stolen property, holding on to it longer than is necessary to turn it in, or using the property for your own benefit is evidence of dishonest intent.

    Receiving stolen property is punished the same way as larceny. If the property is worth $200 or more then it is a felony offense. If the property is worth less than $200 then it is a misdemeanor.

    Felony receipt of stolen property comes with up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Misdemeanor receipt of stolen property comes with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

    A conviction for receipt of stolen property cannot be expunged from your permanent criminal record. A conviction for receipt of stolen property can also result in deportation if you are not a U.S. citizen.

    Va. Code 18.2-108.01: Larceny with intent to sell & Sale of stolen property

    This crime is actually two different offenses. The first is grand larceny with intent to sell. This means that if a person steals something worth $200 or more with the intent to sell or distribute it is a guilty felony and will be punished with 2 to 20 years in prison.

    Larceny with intent to sell is worse than normal grand larceny because it comes with a minimum prison sentence of 2 years while normal grand larceny has no minimum sentence.

    Va. Code 18.2-108.01 also outlaws possession of stolen property with the intent to sell it. Doing so is a class 5 felony which comes with up to 10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    The two most common ways that the prosecution proves intent to sell is either a statement made by the defendant to the police or possession of many similar items (i.e. possessing 3 stolen iPhones).

    Va. Code 18.2-108.1: Receipt of stolen firearm

    This code section is simple. It creates a special law for receiving or possessing a stolen firearm. The law is similar to Va. Code 18.2-108 in all respects except the punishment.

    The punishment for receipt of a stolen firearm is less than the punishment for receipt of stolen property valued at $200 or more. Receipt of a stolen firearm is a class 6 felony, punishable by a maximum of up to 5 years in jail and $2,500.

    Va. Code 18.2-109: Receipt or Transfer of possession of a stolen vehicle, aircraft, or boat.

    This law is strange and overly complicated. This law is different from normal possession of stolen property in several respects: 1) the stolen property must be a car, boat, or aircraft, 2) the defendant must have the intent to get or transfer the title, and 3) the defendant can commit this crime by giving away as well as receiving the stolen vehicle.

    The punishment of this crime is also different from normal possession of stolen property. Possession of a stolen car, boat, or aircraft is a class 6 felony which comes with up to 5 years in prison and a $2,500 fine.

    Rental Car Theft

    Va. Code 18.2-117 makes it grand larceny to not return a rental car, boat, plane, or animal within five days after the return date on the rental agreement.

    “If any person comes into the possession as bailee of any animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel, and fails to return the same to the bailor, in accordance with the bailment agreement, he shall be deemed guilty of larceny thereof and receive the same punishment, according to the value of the thing stolen, prescribed for the punishment of the larceny of goods and chattels. The failure to return to the bailor such animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat, or vessel, within five days from the time the bailee has agreed in writing to return the same shall be prima facie evidence of larceny by such bailee of such animal, aircraft, vehicle, boat or vessel.”

    A bailee is a legal term for someone who rents or leases property. A bailor is a renter or leaser. It has nothing to do with posting bond or bail.

    This law does not require that the prosecution prove any intent to defraud. Instead, if a person is late returning the property then the defendant must prove that they did not have intent to defraud.

    These cases most often involve low-budget rental car companies. These companies use this law to squeeze late fees and excessive rental fees from defendants.

    If a renter refuses to pay the large over-due fees when they return the car late, then the rental company goes to a magistrate and gets a warrant for the driver’s arrest. The police arrest the renter and the rental company uses the courts as a free collection agency.

    However, in order for the strict 5-day return deadline to have legal effect, the rental agreement must be clear on the return date. Vague, oral, open-ended, or even amended rental agreements may not be enough to satisfy this requirement.

    Additionally, the rental company can only prosecute the person on the rental car agreement. I have seen several cases where the rental company has incorrectly tried to prosecute the guarantor or the spouse of the person who signed the rental agreement.

    There are often a lot of defenses and strategies that can be used to avoid conviction for this crime.

    The penalties for failure to return a rental car are the same as grand larceny. Grand larceny is a felony and conviction stays on your permanent criminal record forever. Adults cannot have a criminal conviction expunged from their record in Virginia.

    If you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights. Felons cannot vote and cannot own guns in Virginia. A conviction can also affect your ability to get certain jobs, go to graduate school, get security clearance, join the military and may result in deportation.

    If you are convicted of grand larceny the judge or jury can sentence you to up to 20 years in prison and fine you up to $2,500. You can also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim.

    Miscellaneous Rental Property Theft

    Va. Code 18.2-118 makes it larceny to not return rental property (except cars, planes, boats, and animals) within 30 days of the return date on the rental agreement if they have intent to defraud.

    The fact that the borrower did not return the property within 30 days after receiving written notice that the rental period has expired can be used as evidence that the defendant has the intent to defraud.

    The penalties for this offense are the same as grand larceny. Grand larceny is a felony and conviction stays on your permanent criminal record forever. Adults cannot have a criminal conviction expunged from their record in Virginia.

    If you are convicted of a felony, you lose certain civil rights. Felons cannot vote and cannot own guns in Virginia. A conviction can also affect your ability to get certain jobs, go to graduate school, get security clearance, join the military and may result in deportation.

    If you are convicted of grand larceny the judge or jury can sentence you to up to 20 years in prison and fine you up to $2,500. You can also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim.

    If you have been accused of larceny involving a rental car or rental theft in Northern Virginia, then call Nichols & Green PLLC (703) 383-9222 for a free consultation about your case.

    Shoplifting

    Shoplifting is a form of larceny. Shoplifting an item worth $200 or more is grand larceny and so it’s a felony. Shoplifting an item worth less than $200 is petite larceny and it is a misdemeanor (unless it is a 3rd or subsequent petite larceny, then it is a felony).

    Shoplifting is more than just taking something and walking out of the store. Va. Code 18.2-103 defines several alternative forms of shoplifting:

    Whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own or another’s use without having paid the full purchase price thereof, or of defrauding the owner of the value of the goods or merchandise, (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another, or (iii) counsels, assists, aids or abets another in the performance of any of the above acts, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is less than $200, shall be guilty of petit larceny and, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is $200 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny. The willful concealment of goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, while still on the premises thereof, shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to convert and defraud the owner thereof out of the value of the goods or merchandise.

    What Va. Code 18.2-103 says that it is illegal to attempt to steal something by:

    • concealing merchandise
    • taking possession of merchandise
    • altering price tags
    • Moving merchandise from one packaging to another
    • Help someone else do one of the crimes mentioned above.

    Some of the common ways that people violate Va. Code 18.2-103 include: Hiding merchandise in a bag or under your clothes. Taking something off the shelf and then admitting you were planning on stealing it. Switching the price tags on merchandise. Switching the packaging of a product. Acting as a “lookout” while someone does one of these things.

    The value of the item and your prior record determine whether Va. Code 18.2-103 is felony larceny or misdemeanor larceny.

    Even though shoplifting is simply a form of larceny, shoplifting comes with its own special laws and legal issues. Consequently, this chapter addresses the many questions people have when they have been charged with shoplifting.

    Are Store Employees Allowed To Detain People?

    Virginia law Va. Code 18.2-105.1 allows a store employee to detain someone if they have probable cause to believe that the person is shoplifting, concealing merchandise, or altering price tags.

    How Can I See the Security Video?

    Virginia law does not give a defendant or their attorney a right to see a security video in most situations, but that does not mean your attorney cannot get a copy.

    However, some of the tactics used to get a copy of a security tape can be fraught with danger. In many shoplifting cases, the prosecution never gets a copy of the security camera tapes.

    The prosecution typically relies on the store employees to bring a copy of the tapes with them to court and often the employee forgets or loses the tapes.

    Additionally, some cases do not require the tapes and some cases do. Sometimes a prosecutor gets to court and then realizes that they need the tapes but it is too late to get the tapes.

    Attempting to get tapes through a discovery order or subpoena duces tecum can reduce the chance that a prosecutor doesn’t have the tapes at trial.

    The best course of action is to consult with an attorney as soon as you are charged with shoplifting and then be as accurate as possible about what you actually did. Once your attorney knows what will be on the tape, they can decide how best to proceed.

    But I Never Left The Store

    There are many types of shoplifting that do not require someone to leave the store to be guilty. Altering price tags or hiding merchandise that you plan on stealing is a crime regardless of whether you make it out of the store or not.

    What If I offered to Pay for or Return the Items I Stole?

    A person is guilty of shoplifting as soon as the crime is committed. Attempting to return or purchase the merchandise after the fact does not change the fact that the crime was committed.

    Paying for an item or giving it back can affect whether or not you are ordered to pay restitution for the items stolen and it can affect the judge’s opinion of the defendant but it is not a defense.

    My Friend Stole, But I Never Actually Took Anything

    It is very common for one person in a group to steal and then all members of the group to be charged with shoplifting.

    Helping or aiding a person who is stealing is a crime. Helping can take many forms: Concealing something they took off the self, being a lookout, giving encouragement, driving the car to and from.

    However, proving that a person aided in shoplifting requires that the court be able to prove that the aid was intentional. You must have known shoplifting was going on to prove that you aided others in shoplifting.

    The Store Employee Made Me Sign A Confession?

    In Virginia, store loss prevention officers are allowed to detain shoplifters for up to one hour if they have probable cause to believe that the person shoplifted.

    During the detention, the store employee will often try to get you to sign a confession.

    Written confessions and spoken confessions are admissible in court as long have a certain degree of reliability, there is some evidence that corroborates the confession, and the confession does not violate some constitutional right.

    If you made a confession (written or spoken) it is very important to tell your attorney who was present when it happened, what was said, and whether you were subjected to coercion.

    The Loss Prevention Officer Brought Me Back to the Store

    The law allows store employees to detain someone for up to an hour while they wait for the police to arrive. This law does not give the store employee the right to force someone to return to the store.

    I Was Detained for More Than One Hour

    The law in Virginia allows a store employee to detain a shoplifter for up to one hour, pending the arrival of the police.

    If the store employee detains someone and does not then immediately call the police or if the store employee detains them for more than one hour, they are in violation of this law.

    The Store Employee Used Violence or Intimidation

    Store employees cannot use unreasonable force to detain a shoplifter. First, they must have probable cause that someone was shoplifting and then they must use only an appropriate level of force to detain them.

    If a store employee uses unnecessary force or force that is solely intended to humiliate or hurt that is a violation of the law.

    Excessive intimidation tactics can also affect a case. If a store employee uses violence and severe intimidation tactics to extract a confession that may affect the validity of that confession.

    The Store Employee Made Me Sign A Promise to Pay Them Money?

    Under Virginia law Va. Code 18.2-104.1 store owners are allowed to sue shoplifters. The stores are entitled to compensation for any goods they did not get back or that they were not able to resell.

    Stores are also allowed to ensure people recover the cost of prosecuting the shoplifter. However, the cost of prosecution should not exceed $250.

    Often, stores will try to get shoplifters to sign contracts, agreeing to pay this money, while the shoplifter is detained at the store.

    If you were asked to sign one of these agreements or if you did sign one of these agreements, talk to an attorney. These contracts may or may not be enforceable.

    They Told Me Everything would be OK if I Admitted to Stealing

    Some loss prevention officers will make promises in order to get people to make confessions. These fairytale promises that everything will be okay if you just tell us are obviously lies.

    While such lies do not automatically make a confession inadmissible, they do cast a shadow on the credibility of the witness. If a person is willing to lie to get a confession are they willing to lie on the stand to get a conviction?

    Whether such a lie is enough to help your case depends on many factors, so talk to your attorney if the store employees lied to you.

    All I did was change the price tag

    Altering price tags is illegal, but only if the alteration was done with the intent of stealing the item. Altered price tags by themselves may not necessarily be enough to convict.

    The shopper must do or say something that demonstrates that their purpose in altering the price tags was to steal or commit fraud.

    If you are accused of this crime it is extremely important to tell your attorney as much detail about what happened so that they can determine whether there is enough evidence to convict.

    Will I Go To Jail?

    Many factors determine whether you go to jail. In some jurisdictions, prosecutors and judges sentence almost everyone found guilty of stealing to at least one day in jail. In other jurisdictions, the courts are much more lenient.

    If you want your attorney to give you an accurate prediction regarding your likely sentence, make sure you explain your entire criminal record and as many factors about the case as you can remember.

    How Long Does Shoplifting Stay on My Record?

    All adult criminal convictions in Virginia stay on your criminal record forever. There are no expungements for adult criminal convictions in Virginia.

    For juveniles, a misdemeanor conviction is destroyed when the defendant reaches 19 years old or after 5 years. Whichever is longer.

    A juvenile offense that affects your DMV record stays on your record until you are 29 years old. And a juvenile felony conviction never disappears.

    If an adult or juvenile beats the charges against them, an expungement is possible.

    Shoplifting Can Result in Deportation.

    If you are not a US citizen shoplifting can result in your deportation from the United States. In this situation, whether you are charged with misdemeanor or felony shoplifting can affect the odds of being deported.

    Restitution and “NO TRESPASSING”

    If you are convicted of shoplifting, most judges will order that you pay the store for any lost or damaged merchandise.

    Restitution orders can take the form of a payment plan or a flat fee with a deadline. If there is going to be a restitution payment, you your attorney, and the judge must sign the restitution plan and submit it to the judge on the day of your sentencing hearing or trial.

    Additionally, most judges will order that you do not set foot in that store again. Violating this order can result in jail time in many instances.

    Alternative Punishments For Shoplifting

    In some of the jurisdictions of Virginia, there are programs for people with good records who are guilty of certain shoplifting and theft offenses.

    These programs are all slightly different depending on the jurisdiction. However, most of these programs involve a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS).

    An SIS is where a Defendant pleads guilty or loses at trial. But before the judge declares that the defendant is guilty, the judge continues the court date to a day far in the future.

    The judge then orders that the Defendant do certain things: community service, stay out of trouble, complete a class, pay restitution, and/or pay court costs.

    If the Defendant completes all of these requirements prior to the new court date then the judge will dismiss the case or reduce the punishment.

    An SIS is usually preferable to an actual conviction but not as good as a normal dismissal. On some applications employers or institutions will demand that applicants disclose an SIS the same way that they disclose criminal convictions.

    In order to know whether your jurisdiction has a first-offender program and whether you would qualify for such a program, talk to a shoplifting defense attorney.

    Trespassing

    Va. Code 18.2-119 (Trespassing after being forbidden to do so)

    If a landowner or their authorized agents tell a person to leave or to not enter their property and that same person returns or remains on the property then that is trespassing.

    There are several ways a landowner can communicate their warning to leave. The first is by posting “no trespassing signs” where the signs may be reasonably seen.

    The second way is to orally or in writing tell a person that they are not welcome. The most common way this is accomplished is by having the police deliver a “No Trespass Order” to the person. The police have the suspect sign a piece of paper telling them to stay off the property. If after signing that paper, they enter the property then they are guilty of trespassing.

    An authorized agent of the landowner is typically an employee like a property manager. For instance, a corporation owns a bar and the bar manager tells you to leave, this satisfies the requirements of this statute.

    However, the agent must be authorized. If a waitress tells a customer to leave the property this usually will not satisfy the requirements of the trespassing statute because waitresses typically do not have the authorization to ban people from the premises.

    The most common defenses to trespassing involve proving that a person has been previously banned from the property or that the “No Trespassing” sign was properly posted. However, sometimes the police can forget to verify that the suspect is not the landowner. If the police arrest someone they find in an empty lot the officer generally does not have any way of proving who the actual landowner is and that the suspect is not the landowner.

    Trespassing is a class 1 misdemeanor. Trespassing comes with up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Trespassing is a criminal offense and will remain on your adult criminal record forever.

    However, just because these are the maximum penalties does not mean that you will necessarily go to jail or pay an outrageous fine. Talk to an attorney to find out the likely outcome of your case.

    Va. Code 18.2-132 (Trespassing by hunters and fishermen)

    Trespassing while hunting or fishing is not a very common criminal charge but while I was writing this chapter I saw a whole bunch of people get arrested for this charge while fishing after work so I decided to add it in.

    This specialized version of trespassing is different from normal trespassing in a couple of ways:

    • You must be hunting, trapping, or fishing
    • Must be on land, water, pond, boat, or blind of another person without permission.

    Unlike normal trespassing, you do not need to have been told to leave and there does not need to be a trespass sign.

    Violating this law is a class 3 misdemeanor with no jail time but up to $500 in fines.

    If a person commits this crime while there is a No hunting, fishing, or trapping sign then they are guilty of violating Va. Code 18.2-134 which is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.

    What is Larceny

    Larceny crimes are the most common property crimes in Virginia. There are two general types of larceny crimes: petit or “petty” larceny and grand larceny. Both forms of larceny are criminal offenses but grand larceny is a felony and petty larceny is a misdemeanor.

    What is Larceny?

    An individual commits larceny by wrongfully taking the property of another person without the owner’s consent and with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of their property.

    You cannot accidentally commit larceny. If you are leaving a party and you accidentally take the wrong coat, you did not commit a larceny.

    Likewise, if you believe that you have a right to take property when you in fact do not have that right, you have not committed larceny. So, if a con artist sells me a car he doesn’t own, I do not commit a larceny if I then take the car believing I had bought it.

    Additionally, temporarily borrowing property without permission is not larceny. The defendant must have had the intent of permanently depriving the owner of his property. If I borrow my neighbor’s lawnmower without permission and I leave a note saying “I’ll bring this back Sunday” I am a terrible neighbor, maybe I am guilty of embezzlement but I did not commit larceny.

    The intent to take an owner’s property also must exist at the time that the property was taken. So, if your neighbor loans you his tools and you intend on bringing them back, but after a month you decide to keep them permanently this is not larceny.

    If you have been accused of larceny in Fairfax, VA, call (703) 383-9222 or contact us online today to let our legal team at Nichols & Green defend you against these serious charges.

    Embezzlement Vs. Larceny

    Police and prosecutors often confuse embezzlement with larceny. Embezzlement is when you have permission to possess an item that you then steal. Larceny is when you take something without any permission.

    For example, if I am a cashier, I have permission to handle the money. If I pocket the money I handled with permission I am embezzling that money. If I take the same money without having permission to handle it then I committed larceny. A person who is guilty of only Embezzlement cannot be convicted of larceny.

    A larceny must involve taking a physical thing of value. Stealing trade secrets, ideas, time or copyright infringement is not larceny.

    The Single Larceny Rule

    When a person is caught stealing multiple items there is questions regarding how many crimes are committed.

    For example, if I go to a store and steal six items each worth $100 dollars, did I commit one felony grand larceny or did I commit six petite larcenies?

    The “single larceny doctrine” is a rule that governs when stealing multiple items becomes one crime or multiple crimes. The single larceny doctrine states that stealing multiple items is one crime when the thief committed the thefts as part of a single act and a single intent.

    The court will weigh the following factors to determine whether the single larceny doctrine applies:

    • the location of the items stolen
    • the lapse of time between the takings
    • the intentions of the thief
    • the number of owners impacted, and
    • whether intervening events occurred between the takings

    Here are some real examples of when the single larceny doctrine does and does not apply:

    • Stealing two purses, owned by two people from the same location at the same time was a single larceny.
    • Stealing a purse, a radio, and a wallet from different people at different locations within a hospital all on the same day constituted three separate larcenies.
    • Stealing from a church five times over 25 months is five separate crimes when each time the defendant intended that theft to be his last.
    • Stealing jewelry for money, a rifle for protection, and a car in order to escape, all at the same home, from the same owner, at about the same time were three separate larcenies because they were each part of a separate intent or plan.