Shoplifting Offenses: Understanding the Crime and the Penalties You Could Face if Convicted

Shoplifting Gavel and HandcuffsShoplifting is a serious criminal offense in Virginia that can result in harsh consequences if convicted. If you have been arrested for shoplifting, it is imperative that you seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can aggressively defend you to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious crime through a plea bargain.

Elements of the Crime of Shoplifting in Virginia

Shoplifting in Virginia is considered a form of larceny, defined as the unlawful taking or concealment of another individual’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of the property. Under Virginia Code § 18.2-103,  the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone committed shoplifting in one of these ways:

  • Concealing or taking merchandise. Shoplifting occurs when a person conceals or removes merchandise from a store without paying for it.
  • Altering price tags. Another way shoplifting can be committed is when an individual alters price tags or labels with the intent to pay less than the actual price.
  • Placing an item in a different container. Virginia also considers it shoplifting to place an item in another container with the intent to pay less than the actual price.
  • Assisting in shoplifting. If an individual assists someone in committing any of the above acts, they could be charged with shoplifting.

Penalties for Shoplifting in Virginia

Shoplifting can be a misdemeanor or felony in Virginia, depending on the value of the merchandise stolen. If the value of the goods is less than $1,000, the individual would be charged with petit larceny, a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. If the value of the merchandise is $1,000 or more, they will face grand larceny charges, which is an unclassified felony offense.

Penalties for Petit Larceny

  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $2,500

Penalties for Grand Larceny

  • A prison sentence of one to 20 years
  • A fine of up to $2,500

However, the judge or jury has the discretion to only sentence the person to the same punishments as for petit larceny.

You increase the likelihood of a less harsh sentence if a skilled criminal defense lawyer represents you. Even if you believe you are guilty, you could have strong defenses to help you achieve a less harsh outcome.