Virginia’s Grand Larceny Laws: A Quick Guide

The theft of any item worth more than $5 from another's person, as well as the theft of any item valued at more than $500, counts as grand larceny in Virginia.
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by | Last updated Mar 17, 2020 | Published on Aug 21, 2018 | Virginia Criminal Law

The Virginia Code considers the act of larceny as the theft of another person’s property.

The Code further splits larceny into two different charges (petit and grand), depending on the value of the stolen items.

In this article, we’ll explore Virginia’s grand larceny laws, the larger and more serious offense.

Editor’s Note: As of July 1st, 2018 the Virginia code has changed the cut-off between petit and grand larceny from $200 to $500.

What is Grand Larceny?

Every state has different standards for what qualifies as grand larceny. Virginia’s standards are relatively simple and easy to understand:

“Any person who (i) commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more, (ii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of value of $500 or more, or (iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm’s value, shall be guilty of grand larceny.”

Virginia Code § 18.2-95

As you can see in this law, Virginia defines grand larceny in two (and a half) parts:

  • Compound Larceny
  • Simple Larceny
  • Simple Larceny of a Firearm

Compound Larceny

The first definition of grand larceny includes any crime where the offender steals from another’s “person.”

Generally speaking, this means that the items must have been stolen directly from the victim.

For example, mugging, pickpocketing, and cases of assault that lead to theft all count as compound larceny because the items were directly stolen from another person’s physical body (their “person”).

To meet the requirement for compound grand larceny, the offender must have stolen more than $5 in money or other things of value.

Anything below this amount would instead lead to petty larceny charges.

Simple Grand Larceny

The second type of grand larceny applies to any person who commits “simple” larceny for more than $500.

By definition, simple larceny is an act of larceny not performed against another’s “person,” such as stealing gnomes from someone’s yard or shoplifting.

In this context, stealing an item worth more than $500 would count as simple grand larceny, but only if the item was not on another’s “person.”

For example, stealing $1,000 in furniture from your neighbor’s yard would count as simple grand larceny.

However, stealing $300 in gnomes from your other neighbor’s yard would likely count as petty larceny, since this amount is lower than the $500 threshold for simple grand larceny.

Simple Grand Larceny of a Firearm

As one final note, Virginia follows special rules when it comes to the theft of a firearm.

In Virginia, stealing any firearm, regardless of the value, counts as grand larceny.

Further, any crimes committed with the stolen firearm are punished more harshly because of a grand larceny conviction.

Possible Penalties for Grand Larceny in Virginia

Grand larceny is a felony, punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for “not less than one and not more than twenty” years.

For special cases, the court (or jury) can also choose to lower this sentence to confinement in jail for a period not exceeding one year and/or a fine of no more than $2,500.

Further, all felony penalties apply when convicted of grand larceny in Virginia.

For example, felons in Virginia lose several civil rights, such as the right to vote, own a firearm, or serve on a jury.

These additional effects are often referred to as “collateral consequences,” and are an important part of any felony conviction.

If you lose your rights because of a felony, you’ll need to contact the Virginia Governor’s office to have them restored.

Conclusion

The Commonwealth of Virginia breaks grand larceny down into two categories: compound and simple.

If convicted of grand larceny, you will likely face jail time and hefty fines. These are serious charges that can have life-altering implications.

If you or a loved one are charged with larceny, you should contact an attorney immediately.

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Jacob Tingen

Jacob graduated from the University of Richmond School of Law and was accepted to the Virginia Bar in 2012. Less than 30 days after being admitted to the bar, Jacob launched his own legal practice. Read More.

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