Petit Larceny is a very common charge in Fairfax County. Unfortunately, it is also crime that must be addressed because a conviction can be very problematic. It is considered a crime of "moral turpitude" that may result in problems with immigration, school, and employment. Unlike a simple ticket, for example, this offense cannot be prepaid and requires your appearance in court. The good news is there are ways to have the Petit Larceny charge dismissed. Feel free to give us a call or use the contact form to reach out to us and we would be happy to discuss your case with you.
Petit Larceny in Fairfax County: §18.2-96
Petit Larceny in Virginia is defined by Virginia Code §18.2-96 and by case law as the taking of goods of another, without their consent, with the intent to permanently deprive. When the value of the goods is less than $1000 it is considered Petit Larceny and is a Class 1 Misdemeanor with a potential punishment of up to 12 months in jail and $2500 fine. In most cases, Petit Larceny is charged because of shoplifting from a store. Shoplifting is so common that many stores have special loss prevention officers that are in constant surveillance. Some watch customers from store video footage while others are walking around in plain clothes. Most of the shoplifting cases we see in Fairfax County involve Walmart, Target, JC Penney, Macys, Sephora, and Nordstrom. From time to time we also see cases from some of the smaller stores such as Spencer Gifts, Apple, or Victoria's Secret. Many of these stores are in malls such as Fair Oaks Mall, Springfield Mall, or Tyson's Corner Shopping Center.
A less common type of Petit Larceny is when there is a taking from the person of another where the value is less than $5 (otherwise known as "pick pocketing"). This offense is different from robbery because no violence is used to obtain the items so the punishment is less in these cases.
Petit Larceny: First Offense
Fairfax County has a first offender program for first-time Petit Larceny cases. Provided you have never had a prior Petit Larceny conviction and no other prior convictions for violent crimes, you will be given the opportunity to participate in the OAR program. Completion of this program will result in a dismissal of your Petit Larceny or Shoplifting charge.
The OAR program requires completion of 50 hours of community service and maintain good behavior for 4 months (note: some Judges require 1 year). There is a 3-hour shoplifting course that must be completed as well. It should be noted that the 3-hour shoplifting course will be credited towards the 50 hours of community service. In addition, there is a $100 program fee that must be paid as well. Once these tasks as completed, the Petit Larceny charge will be dismissed. While the charge is not expungeable, it is a great alternative in many cases because you avoid a Petit Larceny conviction (very important). Failure to complete the program generally results in a fine and a conviction. Jail time is not generally an issue for First Offense Petit Larceny charges in Fairfax County.
Second Offense Petit Larceny
Under Virginia Code §18.2-104, a second offense for Petit Larceny requires the Court to impose a minimum of 30 days in jail. As a result, jail time is very possible for a second offense Petit Larceny in Fairfax County because the act has been committed again. The good news is, since the statute does not have the word "mandatory" in it, we have been successful in convincing the Court to impose a suspended sentence. A "suspended sentence" is different from an "active sentence" because there is no actual jail time to serve. We can accomplish this by having our client complete some tasks prior to Court that we can use towards mitigation in the case. In many cases, our clients were not represented by a lawyer in their first Petit Larceny case so we can argue they were deprived of the representation advising them the consequences of what would happen in a second offense.
Third Offense Petit Larceny
A third offense Petit Larceny is a Felony in Virginia. Under §18.2-104, a third offense for Petit Larceny is a Class 6 Felony. Consequently, there is a potential prison sentence of 0 days to 5 years. An aggressive defense will be needed in these cases to avoid a felony conviction. Fairfax County takes third offense Petit Larceny cases seriously because we are now at the point there is a real problem with stealing. These types of cases require a lot of planning and preparation so you will need to be prepared to work very hard before you court date to show the Court that the issues with stealing have been addressed (assuming the case can be proven).
Preparation for your Petit Larceny case in Fairfax County
The first thing we'll discuss with you is the facts of the case. We want to know if the Commonwealth can prove that a Petit Larceny occurred in Fairfax County. We will want to know where the incident occurred, who the items belonged to, and where the items were located when you were questioned. In addition, we will want to know the value of the goods because the law requires that they have some kind of value. The value issue is generally not as much an important in these cases as it is in Grand Larceny cases.
If after discussing the case with you we feel there is a high probability the case can be proven, we will start preparing you for mitigation. Mitigation is essentially putting you in a position where you have righted the wrong. We will discuss having you complete a shoplifter's course, completing community service, and either giving back the items or paying restitution. These tasks can go a long way to favorably resolving your case.
If jail time is a real issue, we will provide you with the likely length of sentence and work towards having the court set a "sentencing date" so that you can ensure your family or other obligations can be protected while you serve your sentence. These logistical issues are very important and are many times overlooked by both clients and attorneys. However, the impact of a jail sentence can be minimized if handled correctly.
Contact Us For a Free Consultation
We offer a free consultation to discuss your case so you can start planning your case right away. In many cases, the court date is set a couple of months after the date of incident which gives you plenty of time to prepare your case. Don't wait until the last minute because you will need the additional time. Of course, if court is tomorrow, for example, we can still help ensure your rights and future is protected. We are in Court everyday and you want to ensure you have a lawyer that regularly practices these types of cases so you can have the best chance to protect yourself.