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Shoplifting in Virginia is risky business

In 1980, the State of Virginia increased the threshold for felony charges to $200. Despite inflation in the years since, government leaders have not yet conceded another raise is necessary. At the law firm of Ronald E. Smith, P.C., our experts understand the legal ramifications of Virginia's larceny and theft legislation. 

According to the U.S. News & World Report, shoplifting in Virginia can result in a higher penalty than in other states. In fact, if you steal merchandise worth $200.01, you may find yourself facing felony larceny charges in a Virginia courtroom. Although other legislatures, such as that of Texas and Wisconsin, have much higher criteria for tagging shoplifters with felonies, the Cavalier State maintains its position that taking more than $200 in goods is worthy of the label. 

Virginia retailers agree. They believe "the lower threshold deters shoplifting," and they have done everything in their power to let lawmakers know their stance. It has worked. When legislators considered raising the felony threshold to $500 earlier this year, the proposal did not survive. What that means for you is district attorneys may require jail time in exchange for reducing felony shoplifting to a misdemeanor, and some may not offer a reduced charge at all.

When considering the effects of higher criteria, Virginia lawmakers may have looked to California, which has reported a "surge in shoplifting" since its leaders raised the felony threshold to $950 in 2014. They may also consider the Los Angeles Police Department, in particular, which has indicated reports of theft went up by 25 percent in that same time. As a result, you may want to weigh the reality that legislators could remain hesitant to revisit their position in the years ahead. For more information on this topic, visit our webpage.  

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Ronald E. Smith, P.C.

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