If you’ve been charged with grand larceny or petit larceny in Prince William County, Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Culpepper, Fauquier, Stafford or anywhere else in Virginia… call us now for a free consultation.


What is grand larceny in Virginia?

 Virginia Code § 18.2-95 punishes a criminal defendant for the crime of grand larceny.  Grand larceny is defined as 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 the value of $200 or more, or (iii) commits simple larceny not from the person of another of any firearm, regardless of the firearm's value.


What is the punishment for grand larceny?

Grand larceny is punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than twenty years or, in the discretion of the jury or court trying the case without a jury, be confined in jail for a period not exceeding twelve months or fined not more than $2,500, either or both.


What is petit larceny in Virginia?

Virginia Code § 18.2-96 punishes a criminal defendant for the crime of petit larceny.  Petit larceny is defined as Any person who:

(1)  Commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of less than $5, OR

(2) Commits simple larceny not from the person of another of goods and chattels of the value of less than $200, except as provided in subdivision (iii) of § 18.2-95.


What is punishment for petit larceny?

Petit larceny is punishable as a class 1 misdemeanor.  This means that a criminal defendant may be sentenced to confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $ 2,500.


What is constitutes a felony petit larceny in Virginia? What is the punishment for this charge?

One may be convicted of a felony for a misdemeanor larceny offense, if that person has been previously convicted in the Commonwealth of Virginia or in another jurisdiction for any offense of larceny or any offense deemed or punishable as larceny, or of any substantially similar offense in any other jurisdiction, regardless of whether the prior convictions were misdemeanors, felonies or a combination thereof.

These crimes are class 6 felonies and may be punishable by up to five years of incarceration.


What constitutes “larceny” in Virginia?

An individual commits larceny by wrongfully taking the goods of another without the owner's consent and with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the goods.  Burton v. Com., 2011, 708 S.E.2d 444, 58 Va.App. 274, Hunt v. Com., 2005, 614 S.E.2d 668, 46 Va.App. 25


Who can be found guilty of larceny?

Larceny is a continuous offense.  Dunlavey v. Com., 1945, 35 S.E.2d 763, 184 Va. 521. Because larceny is a continuing offense, anyone who knows that personal property is stolen and assists in its transportation or disposition is guilty of larceny.  Williams v. Com., 2010, 696 S.E.2d 233, 56 Va.App. 638.


What types of things must be taken to constitute a larceny?

To sustain indictment for larceny it is sufficient that goods alleged to have been stolen are proved to be either absolute or special property of alleged owner.  Catterton v. Com., 1996, 477 S.E.2d 748, 23 Va.App. 407.  By statute, as at common law, only money or goods and chattels are the subject of larceny, and neither time nor services may be taken and carried away and they are therefore not contemplated as subjects of larceny.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95.  Owolabi v. Com., 1993, 428 S.E.2d 14, 16 Va.App. 78.


Will a series of larcenies be counted as one single offense or multiple offenses?

Single larceny doctrine implies that finder of fact may infer thief's intent from time and place of unlawful takings and from appearance, under circumstances, that thief's actions were one continuous act or transaction; ultimately, however, each case necessarily has to be decided on its own facts, and defendant can be convicted of separate thefts only if evidence showed offenses to be separate and distinct and not committed pursuant to one intention, one impulse, or one plan.     For example, a Defendant's convictions for two counts of grand larceny and two counts of felonious petit larceny, which arose from thefts of property of four different employees at hospital complex which defendant had entered, was supported by evidence that defendant roamed hospital complex and chose to steal only personal items belonging to different employees, which supported inference that defendant had separate intent for each theft; defendant must have known that each item of property belonged to different employee as he approached to steal it, and intended anew to unlawfully take each additional piece of property he encountered.  Richardson v. Com., 1996, 479 S.E.2d 87, 23 Va.App. 668, on rehearing 489 S.E.2d 697, 25 Va.App. 491.  


How is the value of property determined?

The test of value of goods or chattel stolen, for purposes of establishing the grade of offense of larceny, is market value, and particularly retail value.  “Fair market value,” for purposes of establishing the grade of offense larceny, is the price property will bring when offered for sale by a seller who desires but is not obliged to sell and bought by a buyer under no necessity of purchasing. Code 1950, §§ 18.2-95, 18.2-96.  Robinson v. Com., 1999, 516 S.E.2d 475, 258 Va. 3, habeas corpus dismissed 121 F.Supp.2d 882.   The monetary element of grand larceny statute is measured by value of item actually stolen, not by value of entire property for which it is a part.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95(ii).  Parker v. Com., 1997, 489 S.E.2d 482, 254 Va. 118.


Who bears the burden of proving the value of the stolen property?

The Commonwealth Attorney bears the burden of proving the value of the stolen property by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95(ii).  Powell v. Com., 1999, 521 S.E.2d 787, 31 Va.App. 167.   The value of stolen property … is measured at the time of the theft.  Baylor v. Com., 2009, 683 S.E.2d 843, 55 Va.App. 82.   The value of the goods taken is not an element of petit larceny, but the value of the goods is an essential element of grand larceny.  Foster v. Com., 2004, 606 S.E.2d 518, 44 Va.App. 574, affirmed 623 S.E.2d 902, 271 Va. 235.


What mental state must be proven by the Commonwealth Attorney?

The Commonwealth must prove that, at the time of the asportation of the property, the thief must act with the intent “to permanently deprive” the owner of that property in order to commit larceny.  Williams v. Com., 2010, 696 S.E.2d 233, 56 Va.App. 638.   There can be no larceny if accused, in good faith, believes that property taken belongs to him, since essential element of criminal intent is lacking in that circumstance.  Com. v. Taylor, 1998, 506 S.E.2d 312, 256 Va. 514.  There can be no larceny of the property taken if it, in fact, is the property of the taker, or if he, in good faith, believed it is his, for there is lacking the criminal intent which is an essential element of larceny.  It is immaterial whether the taker is to benefit thereby or not.  Butts v. Com., 1926, 133 S.E. 764, 145 Va. 800.


Can I be found guilty of larceny if the item was stolen by someone else and later received by me?

A person indicted for simple larceny may be tried, convicted, and punished for that offense merely upon proof that property was stolen by some other person and received by the accused, knowing it to have been stolen.  Covil v. Com., 2004, 604 S.E.2d 79, 268 Va. 692.


I am charged with larceny from a store, but the store stopped me before I left the premises.  Did they have a right to do so?

Retailers need not wait until suspected thief flees store with merchandise before retailers attempt apprehension;  where there is evidence that individual has acted in manner inconsistent with that of prospective purchaser and has exercised immediate dominion and control over property, despite continued presence within store, that conduct establishes sufficient possession to satisfy that element of larceny.  For example, a larceny can be considered complete when defendant moved televisions from display shelf to shopping cart with intent to steal.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95.  Welch v. Com., 1992, 425 S.E.2d 101, 15 Va.App. 518.


Can you be charged with larceny of lost property?

To constitute larceny of lost property, the person finding it must know, or have the means of knowing, the owner, or have reason to believe that the owner may be discovered, and he must intend at the time of finding the property to appropriate it to his own use.  Hutchinson v. Com., 1922, 112 S.E. 624, 133 Va. 710.  When a finder of lost goods takes possession thereof, and appropriates them to his own use, without knowing, at the time of first taking possession, who is the owner, and without having reasonable means of then knowing that fact, such taking and conversion cannot constitute larceny.  Tanner v. Com., 1857, 55 Va. 635.


What constitutes a “taking” for the purposes of a larceny charge?

In every larceny there must be actual taking or severance of goods from possession of owner.   To “take” article means to lay hold of, seize, or grasp it with hands or otherwise, and to do so with requisite criminal intent constitutes felonious taking.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95.  Welch v. Com., 1992, 425 S.E.2d 101, 15 Va.App. 518.


What constitutes the commission of a larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more?

A good example of this is as follows: A. was standing in the street, holding six dollars in his open hand, which he was counting, and J., passing by, took the money out of his hand and walked off, using no force beyond what was necessary to withdraw the money ... under the statute the act was grand larceny, if done with the intent to permanently deprive A of the money.  Johnson v. Com., 1873, 65 Va. 555.  


What constitutes “asportation” for the purposes of proving larceny?

Larceny is complete when defendant with requisite intent to permanently deprive takes possession of property without consent of owner and moves that property from exact location it occupied prior to defendant's conduct.  The slightest asportation is sufficient for larceny, even though property may be abandoned immediately.   Removal of targeted property from owner's premises is not required in order to commit larceny.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95.  Welch v. Com., 1992, 425 S.E.2d 101, 15 Va.App. 518.  For example, once a customer had committed trespass against store by removing merchandise from its packaging and by removing alarm sensors, any movement of merchandise, however slight, was sufficient to establish asportation element of common-law larceny.  Bryant v. Com., 1994, 445 S.E.2d 667, 248 Va. 179.


Is permanent loss by the owner a required element of larceny?

No, permanent loss by the owner is not a required element of larceny.  Code 1950, § 18.2-95.  Jones v. Com., 1986, 349 S.E.2d 414, 3 Va.App. 295.  Where one wrongfully takes property of another with intent to deprive the owner thereof, “larceny” is complete, though the accused afterwards abandons the property.  Slater v. Com., 1942, 18 S.E.2d 909, 179 Va. 264.


If I bring stolen property from another state into Virginia, can I be charged with larceny in Virginia?

To bring into state property stolen in another state constitutes new caption and asportation and is punishable in Virginia as a new offense.  For example, bringing a stolen automobile into the state constitutes larceny and defendant who was convicted thereof could not contend that the prosecution failed to prove he had violated any specific law of the state in which he stole the automobile.  Code 1950, § 19.1-220.  Lovelace v. Com., 1964, 138 S.E.2d 253, 205 Va. 541.


Can I be found guilty of larceny, even if the original plan to take something was someone else’s idea?

A person who has small part in violation of law … in larceny is just as guilty in eyes of law as if he were the ringleader. Dawson v. Peyton, 1965, 246 F.Supp. 444, affirmed 359 F.2d 149.


If I am in joint possession of an item with another person, can we both be found guilty of larceny?

The larceny presumption does not arise when evidence merely reveals that stolen property was found in place in which several people, including accused, had access.  For purposes of larceny, a defendant can be in exclusive possession of property recently stolen when he jointly possesses with another, but evidence must reveal that accused was consciously asserting at least possessory interest in stolen property or was exercising dominion over it.  Best v. Com., 1981, 282 S.E.2d 16, 222 Va. 387.  


I’ve been charged with a larceny by false pretenses in Virginia. What does that mean?

“The gravamen of the offense... is the obtainment of ownership of property, by false representations or pretenses.” Quidley v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 963, 966, 275 S.E.2d 622, 625 (1981).


What does a prosecutor have to prove to convict me of larceny by false pretenses?

In order to sustain a conviction for larceny by false pretenses the Commonwealth or prosecutor must prove the following elements: (1) an intent to defraud; (2) an actual fraud; (3) use of false pretenses for the purpose of perpetrating the fraud; and (4) accomplishment of the fraud by means of the false pretenses used for the purpose, that is, the false pretenses to some degree must have induced the owner to part with his property.  Holt v. Commonwealth, 783 S.E.2d 546, 66 Va.App. 199 (2016).  

In addition to the elements above, “ ‘[a]n essential element of larceny by false pretenses is that both title to and possession of property must pass from the victim to the defendant (or his nominee).’ ” Baker v. Commonwealth, 225 Va. 192, 194, 300 S.E.2d 788, 788 (1983) (quoting Cunningham v. Commonwealth, 219 Va. 399, 402, 247 S.E.2d 683, 685 (1978)).


What is the difference between larceny and or obtaining money by false pretenses in Virginia?

A person who obtains money by false pretenses is deemed guilty of larceny.  Gheorghiu v. Commonwealth, 682 S.E.2d 50, 54 Va.App. 645, affirmed in part, reversed in part 701 S.E.2d 407, 280 Va. 678 (2009) 


LARCENY/OBTAINING MONEY BY FALSE PRETENSES

If you’ve been charged with obtaining money by false pretenses, obtaining property by false pretenses or larceny by false pretenses in Prince William County, Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Culpepper, Fauquier, Stafford or anywhere else in Virginia… call us now for a free consultation.


What does it mean to have a false pretense?

The true inquiry, under the false pretense inducement element, is whether the false pretense, either operating alone or with other causes, had a controlling influence, or that without such pretense the owner would not have parted with his goods.  Parker v. Commonwealth, 654 S.E.2d 580, 275 Va. 150 (2008)


What if I pay money back? Is it still a larceny or or obtaining money by false pretenses?

Crime of larceny by false pretense is complete when fraud intended is consummated by obtaining property sought by means of false representations; offense is not purged by ultimate restoration or payment to victim, and it is sufficient if fraud of accused has put victim in such position that he may eventually suffer loss.  Code 1950, § 18.2-178.  Quidley v. Commonwealth 275 S.E.2d 622, 221 Va. 963 (1981)


What if I didn’t mean to steal it? Am I still guilty of larceny by false pretenses? Or or obtaining money by false pretenses?

In a prosecution for larceny by false pretenses, the Commonwealth must prove that the fraudulent intent existed at the time the false pretenses were made, by which the property was obtained.  Code 1950, § 18.2-178.  Lewis v. Commonwealth, 503 S.E.2d 222, 28 Va.App. 164 (1998)


What defenses do I have to larceny or obtaining money by false pretenses in Virginia?

Whether asserted in good faith or as a “mere pretext,” a claim-of-right defense to charge of larceny by false pretenses relies heavily on factfinding.  Groves v. Commonwealth, 646 S.E.2d 28, 50 Va.App. 57 (2007)


What does a claim of right defense mean, in Virginia, for a larceny/obtaining money by false pretenses charge?

The claim-of-right defense to charge of larceny by false pretenses requires a predicate showing of “good faith”; it requires a bona fide belief by the taking party that she has some legal right to the property taken.   Groves v. Commonwealth, 646 S.E.2d 28, 50 Va.App. 57 (2007)


Are there any defenses to obtaining property by false pretenses?

Absent evidence that defendant acquired any type of ownership interest in automobile, Commonwealth failed to establish a transfer of title took place to vest defendant with ownership rights sufficient to support conviction for grand larceny by false pretenses; there was no temporary certificate of ownership or any other state issued title document, no promissory note, no sales contract, and no other document evidencing some type of ownership transfer, either equitable or legal, from automobile dealership to defendant.  Shropshire v. Commonwealth, 577 S.E.2d 521, 40 Va.App. 34 (2003)


Does issuing a stop payment on a check make me guilty of larceny or obtaining money by false pretenses?

Circumstantial evidence was sufficient to support finding that defendant intended to keep goods without paying for them at the time she obtained property from each victim, as element of offense of larceny by false pretense; in instances two months apart, defendant gave check to merchant in payment for goods, and then issued stop payment on check without explanation to merchant and never returned merchandise or responded to merchant's attempts to communicate with her.  Austin v. Commonwealth, 723 S.E.2d 633, 60 Va.App. 60 (2012)


Can I be found guilty of larceny by false pretenses for buying drugs?

Statement by defendant's accomplice that “these are the pills,” when handing undercover detective fake ecstasy pills, was a false pretense, in support of conviction for obtaining money in excess of $200.00 under false pretense, where statement was made in context of sale transaction in which detective had arranged to buy ecstasy pills.   Parker v. Commonwealth, 654 S.E.2d 580, 275 Va. 150 (2008)


Is there such a thing as grand larceny by false pretenses?

Evidence was sufficient to sustain conviction for grand larceny by false pretenses; evidence that defendant sold car he had not paid for and for which he did not have legal title was sufficient to sustain finding that defendant had requisite intent to defraud; evidence that buyers gave defendant $600 for car, ownership of which he could not legally transfer, was sufficient proof that fraud actually occurred, and evidence that defendant issued receipt to buyers for the car and that he deceived them regarding status of car's title adequately supported finding that the larceny was accomplished by false pretenses and that such pretenses were the means by which buyers were induced to part with their $600.  Code 1950, §§ 18.2-95, 18.2-178.  Wileman v. Commonwealth, S.E.2d 621, 24 Va.App. 642 (1997)  


Does a false credit card application make me guilty of obtaining money by false pretenses?

Evidence that defendant obtained possession of goods pursuant to false credit application was sufficient to sustain conviction for grand larceny for false pretenses, despite contention that evidence was insufficient to show that title to property had passed.  Davies v. Commonwealth, 423 S.E.2d 839, 15 Va.App. 350 (1992)


How can I prove that I did not lie to obtain money by false pretenses?

Evidence of difference in value between services and goods provided and amount paid for them was not evidence of false representation of past or existing fact, nor did it prove that any representation made was false.  Watson v. Commonwealth, 358 S.E.2d 735, 4 Va.App. 450 (1987)


Can I be found guilty of larceny by false pretenses for just having someone else’s check on me?

Defendant's conviction for larceny by false pretenses was supported by evidence that defendant had possession of check in victim's handwriting dated and negotiated after defendant was discharged from victim's employ, check was payable to friend of defendant's for “services rendered,” and friend performed no services for victim.  Watson v. Commonwealth, 358 S.E.2d 735, 4 Va.App. 450 (1987)


How can I prove that the money I received was owed to me to defend myself against a charge of larceny/obtaining money by false pretenses?

In prosecution for unlawfully and feloniously obtaining money by false pretenses with intent to defraud, testimony that all money given defendant for construction of building was used to fulfill contractual commitment, that once he was financially unable to complete work, he informed home buyers about assignments he was attempting to negotiate and, as additional evidence of good faith, asked them to calculate amount of credit they were due for money and labor invested, was sufficient to preclude finding that defendant falsely stated that he had paid a subcontractor with intent to defraud.  Code 1950, § 18.2-178.  Orr v. Commonwealth, 329 S.E.2d 30, 229 Va. 298 (1985)


Can I be found guilty of larceny/obtaining money by false pretenses for double-charging a client?

Evidence that defendant charged double for tamper-proof furniture purchased by Commonwealth institution and intended to defraud Commonwealth and that he misrepresented that furniture was to be manufactured with tamper-proof hardware instead of being installed with such hardware was sufficient to support conviction for larceny.  Code 1950, § 18.2-178.  Mosteller v. Commonwealth, 279 S.E.2d 380, 222 Va. 143 (1981)


Can I be charged with obtaining money by false pretenses for issuing a check with insufficient funds or a bounced check?

Evidence was insufficient to sustain conviction for drawing and uttering a check with intent to defraud, knowing at time of such drawing and uttering that defendant did not have sufficient funds in bank for payment of the instrument.  Code 1950, §§ 6-129, 6-130.  Hubbard v. Commonwealth, 109 S.E.2d 100, 201 Va. 61 (1959)


Who has the burden of proving I’m guilty?

In prosecution for larceny by obtaining witness fees by alleged false representations, burden is on commonwealth to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that false pretenses were used to perpetrate a fraud, that actual fraud was thus committed, and that there was intent to defraud.  Code 1936, § 4459.  Hagy v. Commonwealth, 190 S.E. 144, 168 Va. 663 (1937)


If you’ve been charged with obtaining money by false pretenses, obtaining property by false pretenses or larceny by false pretenses in Prince William County, Fairfax, Arlington, Loudoun, Culpepper, Fauquier, Stafford or anywhere else in Virginia… call us now for a free consultation or contact us via email