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When does a Virginia theft become a felony offense?


Theft is a crime that deprives someone of the value of goods or services to which they have a lawful right. Someone steals by eating at a restaurant and running off without paying or by pocketing items and leaving the store with them.

Those arrested for theft offenses in Virginia may face misdemeanor charges, especially if they got caught shoplifting. Those accused of minor or petty theft offenses in Virginia will typically face misdemeanor charges.

However, theft can easily become a felony. If you involve a weapon or commit an act of violence during a theft, that could lead to felony charges. Still, you don’t have to directly harm or threaten someone else for a theft charge in Virginia to turn into a felony offense. What makes a theft accusation a felony under state law? 

The value of the items involved

Perhaps the most common reason that people will face a felony charge for theft is due to the items involved. The greater the overall value of the property, the more serious the charges become. People will typically face petty theft charges for items worth under $1,000.

Once the combined value of the items stolen reaches $1,000 or more, the charges will likely upgrade to felony charges. Not only does that mean a more serious criminal charge on someone’s record after a conviction or guilty plea, but it also means a longer possible jail sentence and higher overall signs.

Certain kinds of items lead to more serious charges

An object does not have to be worth $1,000 for the state to charge you with felony grand theft. The theft of a firearm worth any amount of money could result in felony charges.

Those facing allegations of grand theft may have numerous defense strategies available. For example, showing that someone has agreed to loan you a firearm could help prove that you didn’t steal it. Providing an alibi or challenging state evidence could help you avoid charges altogether.

A careful review of the evidence is the only way to know what defense strategy might work in your case. Fighting back against theft charges is the best way to prevent those charges from affecting your future opportunities.

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