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Overview of petit larceny and grand larceny in Virginia

When you hear terms in the criminal justice system, you might start to wonder exactly what each term means. Seeing that someone is being accused of larceny might be one of those instances. The term larceny is one that some states, including Virginia, use to differentiate a type of theft that doesn't include embezzlement, robbery and a variety of other theft-based crimes.

According to FindLaw, larceny occurs when a person takes something that belongs to someone else without the owner's consent. There must be an intent to keep the item away from the owner with no intent to return it. A person can be charged with petit larceny under Code 1950, § 18.2-96 or grand larceny under Code 1950, § 18.2-95.

In Virginia, you might hear the term grand larceny. This term pertains to one degree of larceny that can include taking money or something else that is worth more than $5 directly from a person, unlawfully taking any firearm or committing a simple larceny of $200 or more that involves chattels or goods.

A person who is convicted of grand larceny faces a host of consequences. The imprisonment term for a grand larceny conviction is one to 20 years. In some cases, a sentence under 12 months is acceptable. The fine for grand larceny is set at up to $2,500 per Code 1950, § 18.2-95.

Petit larceny is a misdemeanor charge that is used if someone unlawfully takes money or something else with a value of less than $5 directly from a person. It is also used if someone takes chattels or goods worth less than $200.

The variety of incidents that can be construed as grand larceny vary considerably. Anyone who is facing a charge of larceny should make sure he or she understands the difference between these two types of charges.

Source: FindLaw, "Definition of Larceny," accessed Aug. 14, 2014

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