Police procedural television programs and heist movies have made most people conversational with the terms petty theft, larceny, grand larceny and more. But since those shows are never based in Fairfax, VA, the average person is unclear on the actual laws surrounding these offenses.

All theft crimes in Virginia (and those related) are all subsumed under the general term “larceny.” While there are a few specific statutes relating to larceny, generally larceny offenses are divided into two categories:

  • Petit Larceny
  • Grand Larceny

Petit Larceny

Petit larceny is the lowest level of theft. Petit larceny is classified as a Class I misdemeanor, and the attached sentence is possible confinement in jail for a period not longer than 12 months, and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.

What qualifies as a petit larceny?

  • Theft of property or services valued at less than $200, orl
  • Theft of property valued at less than $5 when taken directly from the person of another.

Grand Larceny

Grand larceny is usually punishable as a felony, and if it is charged as a felony, the court can can punish the offender with imprisonment for a period of at least one years but not more than twenty years.

However, at its discretion, the court can choose to view the grand larceny charge as a misdemeanor instead of a felony. This is sometimes done in cases where the defendant has no previous offenses, or if the amount stolen was only slightly over $200. If that is the case, the possible penalties are the same as for petit larceny, which is also a misdemeanor.

What qualifies as a grand larceny?

  • Theft of property or services valued over $200, or
  • Theft of property valued over $5 when taken directly from the person of another, or
  • Theft of any firearm of any value.

Civil Penalties for Larceny

If you are convicted of shoplifting, you may be further liable to the store owner for civil penalties. These penalties are:

  • You must repay two times the value of the stolen merchandise, or $50, but if the store recovers the merchandise in sellable condition, this fine is capped at $350 dollars, and
  • You must reimburse the store owner’s court costs and attorney fees, but this amount is also capped at $150.

These penalties are for a person’s first conviction. There are tiers of penalties for subsequent convictions, but these are beyond the scope of this article.

If you are being charged with larceny in Virginia, contact the Faraji Rosenthall Law Offices for a free consultation to help you determine your next steps.



Faraji A. Rosenthall has been a daily presence in the Fairfax County Courthouse for nearly 10 years, trying criminal cases ranging from traffic and drug offenses to violent crimes such as robberies and manslaughters.

After graduating from Georgetown University Law School in 2004, Mr. Rosenthall was appointed as an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney (Prosecutor) in Fairfax County, where he handled thousands of criminal cases in his four-year tenure, including reckless drivings, DWIs and serious felonies. Mr. Rosenthall gained not only the experience of handling dozens of cases every day, but the knowledge of the inner workings of the Fairfax criminal system. He knows what prosecutors are thinking and what kinds of deals they will offer, because he was one. He knows which judges are sympathetic and which ones are harsh. Having this kind of inside knowledge is invaluable to Mr. Rosenthall’s clients.

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