03 September 2013

VTP: Grades of Larcenies (Felonies/Midemeanors)

In the last post, we established a basic definition of larceny. In this post I shall attempt to lay out the different types of misdemeanor and felony larcenies.

Petit larceny is larceny shorn of any adornments. If a person has committed larceny he has, at the very least committed petit larceny. Basically, petit larceny is the stealing of an item valued at less than $200 or stealing something directly from a person which is valued at less than $5. Virginia Code sec. 18.2-96 sets the punishment for this offense at up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. However, under 18.2-104 a person convicted of a petit larceny who has previously been convicted of any crime (felony or misdemeanor) that is deemed a larceny or is punishable as such faces a punishment between 30 days to 12 months, although the judge can still suspend all of that time and allow the defendant to have no actual jail sentence.

Felony Petit Larceny (felony by aggregation) - 18.2-104 also sets forth a rule that if the defendant has previously convicted of 2 crimes (felony or misdemeanor) that are deemed larcenies or punishable as such a petit larceny conviction is a felony carrying a maximum of 5 years in prison.

Grand Larceny (felony by value) - This is the most common form of grand larceny. Virginia Code sec. 18.2-95 sets out that if a larceny is of an item worth $200 or more or if the larceny is directly from a person and the value of the item is $5 or more then the larceny is a felony and carries a punishment of up to 20 years. Larceny from a person is rarely charged and would be for things like pickpocketing, cutpursing, or purse snatching. However, the $200 larceny charge is seen in every circuit court in Virginia every day court is in session. Obviously, the pertinent element here is the value of items stolen. As you might imagine this has been the subject of a good deal of litigation and all sorts of rules have been developed by the courts.

Determining Value:

For grand larceny the amount of items stolen from one individual at one discrete and limited period of time can be aggregated to reach $200. In fact, under the single larceny doctrine, they must be. See Acey v. Commonwealth, 29 Va.App 240 (1999), But See contra Scott v. Commonwealth, 36 Va.App. 276 (2001)(single larceny doctrine does not apply to the theft of credit cards). However, there is no authority allowing the aggregation of general larcenies on different occasions or from different people. As well, the value of the item stolen cannot be determined by its replacement cost, although it can be a factor in determining the value. Little v. Commonwealth, 59 Va.App 725 (2012). The value of an item can be determined by fair market value though opinion testimony of the owner, the testimony of an expert or, if there is no market for that item, it can be done in a more complex manner by determining value at time purchased and depreciating the value until the time of theft. Baylor v. Commonwealth, 55 Va.App 82 (2009). In cases involving the theft of a car Virginia Code sec. 8.01-419.1 specifically allows value to be determined by recourse to an NADA book (more popularly known as a “blue book”) and the value obtained from this book is not considered testimonial. Walker v. Commonwealth, 281 Va. 227 (2011).

Grand Larceny (felony by type) - There are various and sundry statutes declaring the theft of a specific item grand larceny. There are too many for an easy paragraph here, so this will be covered in separate posts. However, since I have already discussed 18.2-95 I will use it as an example. In addition to the monetary value grand larcenies in 18.2-95 there is one specific type of theft listed which does not require a proof of any value. Under this statute, the stealing of any firearm is a felony carrying a punishment of up to 20 years.

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