Theft Crimes

A woman caught shoplifting

In Virginia, theft and larceny can be a misdemeanor or felony-level charges, depending on the dollar amount. When the allegedly stolen property amount is under $1000.00, the charge will be called petit larceny, a class 1 misdemeanor. The defendant will be charged with grand larceny if the amount is $1000.00 or higher. The defendant will automatically be charged with a felony when the stolen item is a firearm.

The criminal defense attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC have helped countless individuals facing a wide range of theft charges. Whether you are facing shoplifting, petit larceny, or grand larceny charges in Fairfax County, Virginia, our attorneys are ready to provide you with an excellent criminal defense. We have extensive experience negotiating charges to get dismissed or reduced, and we are prepared to take your case to trial if necessary. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about your legal rights. 

Larceny Charges in Virginia

Virginia has two categories of larceny, or theft: grand and petit. Both have the same legal definition. A person is guilty of larceny when they intentionally take and carry away another person’s property without that person’s consent. The difference in charges depends on the property’s fair market value that was allegedly stolen. Petit larceny is a misdemeanor, and a defendant will face this charge if he or she steals:

  • Less than five dollars from the victim
  • Less than $1000 in goods or items from a person or business

Grand larceny is a felony and occurs when a defendant steals:

  • A gun of any value
  • At least five dollars from the alleged victim directly
  • At least $1000 in goods or items


Burglary is a more serious theft charge involving breaking and entering another person’s home or business. A defendant can be charged with robbery regardless of the break-in time. The prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to steal money or property when breaking into the property.


Robbery is a stressed crime that occurs when someone uses a level of force or threat of violence. An individual must take money or goods from the alleged victim to be found guilty of robbery. The prosecution will also need to prove that the defendant engaged in one or more of the following:

  • Violence, such as striking, beating, or choking
  • Assault, such as putting the alleged victim in fear of serious bodily injury
  • Threats, such as claiming to be armed with a gun, knife, or other weapons

Those convicted of robbery and Virginia will be sentenced to at least five years in state prison, making it among the most serious theft crimes.

The Penalties for Theft Crimes in Virginia

If you’ve been charged with a theft crime in Virginia, the prosecution must prove every element of your case beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney may be able to negotiate to get the charges against you dismissed if the police officer is engaged in unconstitutional search and seizure practices in your case. When prosecutors do not have enough compelling evidence against you, your attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal in which you are charged with a lesser crime. If you are convicted of a crime, the following penalties may apply.

Grand larceny is punishable by up to 20 years in prison in Virginia. For petit larceny charges, you face a jail sentence of 30 days to 12 months in jail. You can also face a fine of up to $2,000 for your first conviction. If you have other petit larceny convictions in any jurisdiction, the charges against you will increase to a Class 6 felony, and you could face up to five years in prison. Robbery and burglary are more serious crimes that carry sentences of at least five years in prison in the case of robbery and between 5 and 20 years in prison for burglary. 

Theft By Shoplifting and Altering Merchandise Attorneys

If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, the penalty depends on the amount of product you allegedly shoplifted. In Virginia, shoplifting and altering merchandise can be classified as petit larceny or grand larceny. Store employees and loss prevention officers are legally authorized to detain a person suspected of shoplifting for up to an hour. To legally detain someone for shoplifting, the employees must have probable cause to believe the suspect stole something or was about to steal merchandise. To convict a defendant of shoplifting, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was:

  • Purposely hiding, concealing, or taking goods in a retail store
  • Altering an item’s price tag
  • Transferring an item from one container to another, or
  • Counseling, assisting, or aiding another person in shoplifting

The penalties for shoplifting or altering merchandise in Virginia are as follows:

  • A maximum of 12 months in jail
  • A maximum fine of $2,500
  • Any court-ordered restitution
  • Shoplifter prevention class
  • Community service 
  • Probation

First-Time Offenders and Deferred Findings

If you’ve been charged with larceny as a first-time offender, you may be able to pursue a first-time offender program. In certain situations, a defendant can defer the charges for a specific period. Your larceny charges may be dismissed if you do not have any other criminal charges and fulfill the requirements. 

However, the deferred finding will remain on your criminal record and can’t be expunged. If you fail to meet the requirements, you could still have a criminal conviction. Before you accept a deal for deferred findings, it’s recommended that you discuss your case with an attorney so you can understand all of your options and make the best decision possible.

Discuss Your Case with a Fairfax County Theft Attorney

Whether you are facing shoplifting, petit, or grand larceny charges in Fairfax County, being convicted could have serious adverse consequences for your personal and professional life. Before you try to resolve your theft charges on your own, please consider the benefits of working with an experienced Fairfax County theft attorney. 

The attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC are here to help you understand the charges against you, explain the potential penalties, and develop an effective legal strategy for your defense. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to schedule your initial case evaluation and learn more about your rights.