Penalties You Face If You’re Charged With an Auto Theft Offense in Virginia

Auto Theft in ProcessAuto theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia. If you are convicted, you could face stiff penalties, including a lengthy jail or prison sentence and large fines. Here, you can learn about four common crimes that you may be arrested for or that could become relevant if you enter into a plea agreement.

Four Common Auto Theft Crimes in Virginia

There is no specific auto theft crime in Virginia. However, there are a number of crimes you could be charged with committing. They include:

  • Petit larceny. Grand or petit larceny is committed if there was an unlawful taking of someone’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive them of their vehicle. Under Virginia Code §18.2-96, the crime would be charged as petit larceny if the motor vehicle’s value was under $1,000.
  • Grand larceny. An auto theft would be charged as grand larceny under Virginia Code §18.2-95 if the vehicle’s value was $1,000 or more.
  • Joyriding. Unauthorized use of a vehicle is a less serious offense than grand larceny. Under Virginia Code §18.2-102, it is committed when there is an unauthorized taking, driving, or using of an auto with the intent to temporarily deprive the owner of it.
  • Carjacking. Carjacking under Virginia Code §18.2-581 is the intentional taking of control of a vehicle from another individual through the use of or threat of violence.

Penalties for Auto Theft Crimes

The penalties for an auto theft crime are harsh in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition, you would have a permanent criminal record that could affect your ability to obtain a job, education, housing, and more, long after you complete your sentence. Here are the punishments you may face:

  • Petit larceny. Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Grand larceny. Grand larceny is charged as a Class U felony. If convicted, you could face 1 to 20 years in prison. At the court’s discretion, you may be sentenced to the same punishment as for petit larceny.
  • Joyriding. Unauthorized use of a vehicle is a Class 6 felony, which is known as a wobbler offense. This means that the crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The punishment can include up to five years in prison if the conviction is a felony or the same sentence as petit larceny if the offense is a misdemeanor.
  • Carjacking. Carjacking is a very serious felony offense in Virginia. You could be sentenced to 15 years to life in prison if you are convicted.

Have you been charged with an auto theft crime in Virginia Beach or Norfolk? Our experienced criminal defense lawyers can mount a strong defense that could result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn how we can help, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.