• Joseph R. Amonett, Esq.

Larceny in Virginia

In Virginia, larceny refers to an act of stealing. There are two primary levels of larceny: grand larceny and petit larceny. Grand larceny is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $2,500 fine. Petit larceny is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2,500. In many cases, the difference between grand larceny and petit larceny is the value of the stolen items. Starting July 1, 2020, the threshold value for a grand larceny charge is $1,000. This threshold is much higher than what the law previously required in recent years, which was only $500 or even $200!


Grand larceny is defined by Virginia Code Section 18.2-95 and occurs where a person:

(i) Commits larceny of an item worth $1,000 or more from a place;

(ii) Commits larceny of an item worth $5 or more from the body of another person; or

(iii) Commits larceny of a firearm or gun regardless of its value.

Petit larceny is defined by Virginia Code Section 18.2-96 and occurs where a person:

(i) Commits larceny of an item worth less than $1,000 from a place; or

(ii) Commits larceny of an item worth less than $5 from the body of another person.

Looking at the above crimes, each requires a person to “commit larceny.” Now, what does that mean? Larceny is not defined by Virginia statute. Instead, larceny is a common law crime that has actually been defined by Virginia courts rather than the Virginia general assembly. Larceny is the taking of an item of value belonging to another person without the owner’s consent and with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of such property. This means that a person must not only take something that belongs to someone else, but that person must also have the specific intent not to return the item.


A conviction for any Virginia larceny offense has serious consequences. A person can expect enhanced penalties for a second or subsequent petit larceny conviction. For second offenses, Virginia Code Section 18.2-104 requires a Virginia court to issue a jail sentence between 30 days and 1 year. For third offenses, a petit larceny charge will be upgraded to a class 6 felony, which is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a $2,500 fine. Not only does a person face the possibility of incarceration, but larceny is also considered a crime of moral turpitude. Crimes of moral turpitude refer to acts of lying, cheating, or stealing. These reflect especially poorly to prospective employers.


Lastly, Virginia recognizes a number of other crimes that are similar to petit larceny and grand larceny. These include shoplifting, receiving stolen property, and others. If you are charged with any theft crime, you should make sure to contact a qualified Richmond criminal defense attorney to ensure your interests are protected.