As in the offense of assault and battery,
the Virginia Code does not define the elements of larceny or
embezzlement but leaves it to common law to establish those specific
Common law defines larceny or theft as
a taking, not from the person, with the intent to permanently
deprive the owner of the item.
Virginia Code §§18.2-95 to 18.2-96 define
whether the act will qualify as grand larceny or petit larceny.
Among several other criteria, the main distinction between the two
is the value of the item taken. Larceny of an item with a value of
$200 or more is considered grand larceny in Virginia while a value
of less than $200 is considered petit larceny. Grand larceny also
includes theft from the person of money or thing with a value of $5
or more or larceny of a firearm not from the person. Petit larceny
includes theft from the person of money or thing with a value of
less than $5.
Another significant distinction between grand larceny and petit larceny lies in the level of punishment. Grand larceny is an unclassified felony with a specific punishment assigned by the code section of not less than one year in prison but not more than twenty or in the discretion of a jury or judge trying the case, a jail sentence of not more than 12 months and/or a fine not to exceed $2,500. Petit larceny is a class 1 misdemeanor offense.
HELP TO THE PROSECUTOR:
Virginia Code §18.2-103 is the concealment statute which makes an offense grand larceny or petit larceny, depending upon the value of the goods, where there is willful concealment of goods or merchandise of any store. This statute assists the prosecutor in making out their case by making the act of concealing or hiding the item while in the store, prima facia evidence of an intent to convert and defraud the owner of the value of the goods. In other words, merely hiding an item while in a store may be sufficient for the prosecutor to establish theft of the item.
Virginia there is a legal concept called “concert of action.” This
means that if you are part of a group who is involved in stealing an
item, even though you did not take the item yourself, you may be
found guilty as if you were the person who took the item. However,
the prosecutor must establish that you are doing some activity in
furtherance of the theft and not merely an innocent bystander to the
activity. Frequently, the prosecutor will seek to establish that the
person was acting as a lookout.