Virginia Beach Theft Lawyer
Under Virginia law, theft refers to taking something that does not belong to you, with the intent of depriving its rightful owner of its use or value. You can steal goods, or you can steal services by not paying for someone’s labor when you are expected to. The penalties that you face for conviction of theft offenses will vary, depending upon the value of what you stole as well as the methods used to steal it. However, any conviction for a theft offense can result in a criminal record and potential jail time. It is important to understand your legal rights and your options for defending yourself. A Virginia Beach theft lawyer can provide invaluable advice as you deal with charges for a theft offense.
Virginia Theft Laws
Virginia imposes penalties for stealing items, as well as for involvement with selling stolen goods. A Virginia Beach theft lawyer will be able to elaborate on these technical legal definitions and explain how any and all theft charges might apply to you. However, some of the most common Virginia theft offenses you may be charged with can include:
- Code Section 18.2-96: This law establishes the offense of petit larceny. You can be charged with this offense if you take items valued at $200 or less, as long as the taking was not violent, and the stolen item was not a gun. Potential penalties include up to one year of jail time and fines up to $2,500.
- Code Section 18.2-95: This law establishes the offense of grand larceny. This is a felony offense that you can be charged with if you steal a firearm or if you steal items or services valued above $200. Potential penalties include between one and 20 years in prison.
- Code Section 18.2-108.01: This law makes it illegal to have any part in selling stolen goods. You can be charged not only if you steal items with intent to sell them, but also for being in possession of stolen property that you are selling or intend to sell. This is a felony, and you could be sentenced to between two years and 20 years in prison.
- Code Section 18.2-89: This law makes it illegal to commit burglary, which is defined as breaking into a dwelling at night in order to commit grand larceny or any other felony offense. This offense is a class 3 felony, unless you have a deadly weapon, in which case you will be charged with a class 2 felony. A class 2 felony can result in 20 years to life in prison, and a class 3 felony can result in between five and 20 years in prison.
- Code Section 18.2-58: This law defines the offense of robbery as the use of violence, assault, threats, or force in order to commit larceny. Penalties include between five years and life in prison.
It is possible to be charged with these offenses not only for actually doing these illegal acts yourself, but also for aiding and abetting larceny. A person who helps facilitate a theft faces the same charges and penalties as the person who actually commits the theft. A Virginia Beach theft lawyer, however, can review the charges against you, using an extensive knowledge of the law to determine your best courses of action under the circumstances.
Hiring a Virginia Beach Theft Lawyer
After you have been accused of theft in Virginia Beach, an attorney can assist you in many ways. He or she can help you to:
- Argue for bail so you don’t have to stay incarcerated until your trial is complete.
- Negotiate a plea bargain to reduce charges or limit consequences of conviction. It is almost always possible to avoid jail time for first-offense non-violent theft.
- Defend yourself in court. Two possible defenses you can raise include lack of intent or a lawful claim to the property you are accused of stealing.
- Get any evidence suppressed that was illegally collected in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. Any evidence obtained in an illegal search cannot be used against you.
- Introduce doubt. If a prosecutor cannot successfully prove theft beyond a reasonable doubt, then you should get a not-guilty verdict.
Theft offenses carry harsher penalties for repeat convictions, so you want to try to avoid conviction whenever possible. An attorney will work hard to help you stay out of jail, keep your criminal record clear, or get the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances of your case. Contact a Virginia Beach theft lawyer as soon as you can after your arrest so you’ll have a knowledgeable advocate looking out for your interests.