In Virginia, shoplifting has a broad definition. If you take unpaid merchandise from a store intending to defraud the store owner of the item’s value, you’re shoplifting.
Concealing goods on your person while still in-store is also shoplifting, and so is altering an item’s price tag so that you’ll pay less and transferring unpaid goods from one container to another.
But when is shoplifting considered petit or grand larceny? You would think that all shoplifting is considered petit larceny because grand larceny might better apply to large-scale theft crimes perpetrated by organized crime groups, but you’d only be half-right.
For officials to charge a shoplifter of petit larceny, the stolen goods must be less than $1,000. You’ll get a Class 1 misdemeanor on your criminal record if you’re convicted of petit larceny. A conviction leads to up to 12 months in prison and as much as $2,500 in fines.
Grand larceny is the theft charge you’ll face if the value of the goods you allegedly stole exceeds $1,000. While most shoplifting involves small items that are easy to conceal, such as clothes and cosmetics, it’s not unusual for shoplifters to also target high-value items, which can easily bring the total over $1,000.
Regardless of its value, you can also face grand larceny charges if you’ve shoplifted any firearm. Because it’s a bigger crime, a conviction for grand larceny leads to up to 20 years of prison time plus a maximum $2,500 fine.
Punishment based on the value of goods stolen
In summary, shoplifting can be petit or grand larceny, depending on the total value of stolen goods – or if you allegedly attempted to steal a firearm. Whether you face charges for one or the other, don’t underestimate them. Unless you carefully plan your defense, you could end up paying steep fines and serving prison time.