Richmond Shoplifting Lawyer
While shoplifting may seem like a relatively minor offense, depending on the amount of stolen property, those accused could be facing any anything from a small fine to jail time. With this in mind it’s important that those charged with shoplifting in Richmond, Virginia understand the specific charges they are facing and actively take steps to make sure they minimize the amount of harm that can be done. If you’ve been accused of shoplifting contact a Richmond shoplifting lawyer today to discuss your legal options.
Shoplifting in Richmond, Virginia
In Virginia, shoplifting (charged as petit theft of $200 or less) [Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-103] is commonly alleged when the defendant did any of the following:
- Concealed their possession of merchandise for which they did not pay
- Altered a price tag
- Transferred merchandise from one container to another
- Other acts that constitute concealment, or conspiring with another, to defraud the owner for the merchandise
There are instances where it can be charged as a felony (theft of more than $200) if the stolen property meets that standard.
- A first offense of misdemeanor (petit) shoplifting brings a jail sentence of between 30 days to a year. If one is convicted a third time, it is for a class 6 felony, which brings a fine of $2,500 and up to a year in jail [VA Code Section 18.2-104].
- Any felony shoplifting offense is charged as grand larceny. Depending on the number of previous convictions, and the amount that was stolen, contacting a Richmond shoplifting lawyer in this situation is of utmost importance as the penalty could be from one to 20 years in prison [VA Code Section 18.2-95].
It is also a class 1 misdemeanor to possess any device that shields against electronic detection of shoplifting: [VA Code Section 18.2-105.2]. In addition to reimbursing the merchant victim for the items that were shoplifted, if they cannot be resold as-is, those convicted of shoplifting are entitled to seek two times the damages from the convicted, in addition to reasonable attorneys fees and court costs [VA Code Section 18.2-104.1]. When anyone is charged with this offense, they should quickly retain a seasoned Richmond shoplifting lawyer to aid in their defense.
Options for First-Time Offenders
Richmond and most of the surrounding counties have diversion programs to alleged first-time shoplifters. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a diversion program can serve as an alternative to prosecution. Your Richmond shoplifting attorney can help you determine whether you qualify for such a program. The suspect will have to attend state-approved diversion classes and likely have to meet with their victims, as well as pay restitution. If successful, and the victims are satisfied that restitution has been paid, the criminal charges will likely be dismissed without a conviction on your criminal record.
Probation is also available for certain first-time shoplifters without having to enter a plea of guilty. Known as “deferred adjudication,” the court will suspend proceedings based on the accused’s ability to meet the conditions of their probation, which will be specified by the judge. If all conditions of probation are met by the suspect, the court then dismisses the criminal charges.
If neither a diversion nor first-offender program is deemed practical by the prosecutor, the suspect’s Richmond shoplifting lawyer might be able to negotiate a plea bargain. In that case, the suspect pleads guilty in exchange for lesser charges or reduced sentencing that the defense attorney arranges with the prosecutor.
Expunging a First-Time Shoplifting Charge
If you are found not guilty or your charge is nolle prosequi your attorney can also assist in having your shoplifting charge expunged from your criminal record. In addition, if you have successfully completed a diversion program or probation without a plea, your Richmond shoplifting lawyer can attempt to have the matter expunged as well [VA Code Section 19.2-392.2]. However, you will likely need to wait for a period of time before you can petition the court.