Grand larceny in Virginia can be charged in three different ways: taking money or anything else that is worth $5 or more from a person (that is, physically from them), committing larceny of something that is worth $500 or more, or committing larceny of any firearm regardless of its value. In layman's terms, a larceny is the carrying and taking away of someone else's property with the intention to permanently deprive them of it. Other words commonly used for this are stealing or theft.
There are several components to larceny in Virginia. The first is the taking and carrying away. In most cases this involves physically handling and removing money or something else of value. Though in shoplifting cases, simply concealing an item in a bag or removing or altering the price tag is considered enough, even if the item has not yet left the store.
Next, the property must belong to someone else. So, for example, you cannot commit larceny of something you co-own with others, unless you have given up your right to use or possess it by agreement.
Finally, we have the intention to permanently deprive the owner of possession of the item. Because it is impossible to know what a person is thinking and what their intention is at the time they commit a particular act, intent has to be proven by circumstantial evidence. In other words, do the circumstances make it appear that the defendant never planned to return the item? Or were they simply borrowing it?
It is important to remember that the government (prosecutor) has the burden of proof on each of these things. It is not up to the defendant to show they didn't do it, nor is suspicious conduct enough. And when some part of the case has to be proven by circumstantial evidence, which is always true in a grand larceny case, the evidence must only be consistent with a criminal intention and completely inconsistent with any other possible innocent explanation.
Even when someone appears to be caught red-handed, even if they have confessed, there are still possible defenses in the case. There is still the possibility that a defendant's rights were violated and that some of the harmful evidence might be kept out of court. To learn more about the best way to defend your grand larceny charge in Virginia, please call one of our attorneys today for a free consultation.