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Potential Defenses to Theft or Larceny Charges

Potential Defenses To Theft Or Larceny Charges

If you have been charged with petit larceny (§ 18.2-96) or grand larceny (§ 18.2-95) in Fairfax, Virginia, it is extremely important to begin building a strong defense for your case. While petit larceny is only a misdemeanor offense, upon conviction you will have to face the consequences of having a criminal record, which can impact your ability to obtain credit, to get certain jobs, and even to rent certain homes. Upon conviction of grand larceny, you will face felony penalties, including an extensive term of imprisonment. Moreover, both of these crimes, both the felony and misdemeanor, are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude” and can disqualify you from holding certain types of jobs, or affect your immigration status.

You should always work with an experienced Fairfax criminal defense attorney on your case. The following are some possible defenses that may be available to you depending upon the specific theft or larceny charges you are facing, as well as the specific facts of your case.

  1. Defendant Owned or Believed She Owned the Property 

One of the first and most common defenses to a theft charge is that the defendant believed she or he owned (or in fact actually owned) the property that the defendant was accused of stealing. For example, if the defendant was accused of shoplifting, it could turn out that the defendant actually had possession of that item prior to entering the store and was wrongly accused of shoplifting (an offense that is known as concealing or taking merchandise under Virginia law (§ 18.2-103)). Or, for instance, if the defendant was accused of taking property from a private residence or business, the defendant might have believed that the property was hers and that she had the right to take it—such as a tool that the defendant previously left in the business establishment.

  1. Owner Gave Permission to Use the Property

In some situations, a person charged with a theft offense in Virginia might genuinely have been given—or believe she was given—permission by the owner to take and use the property. For example, if Jane is in possession of a rare book, and Jack wants to take the book home in order to look at it and value it, Jane might give permission. If Jane later claims that Jack stole the book, Jack may be able to argue that Jane gave permission and that the elements of the larceny charge were not met.

Similarly, in a similar scenario to the one above, Jane might have said something to Jack like, “you can take a look at the book whenever you want.” While Jane might have meant that Jack could look at the book only in her presence and in her home, Jack might have understood Jane’s words to mean that she was giving him permission to borrow the book and to take it home with him.

  1. Entrapment

Entrapment may be an eligible defense for different types of criminal charges in Virginia, including larceny charges. In order to use the defense of entrapment, you will need to be able to prove that a government agent planned out a larceny and convinced you to commit the theft or larceny offense. Entrapment can be complicated and difficult to prove, but if your situation involves a crime in which a government official played a role in convincing you to commit the offense, you may be able to use entrapment as a defense.

Seek Advice from a Fairfax Theft Defense Lawyer

You should never try to build a defense without the help of a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer. An advocate at our firm can tailor a defense strategy to the specific facts of your larceny case. Contact Whitestone Young, PC today for assistance.


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