What Happens If I’m Arrested for Shoplifting in Virginia?
Shoplifting is a form of larceny and perhaps the most common larceny charge in Virginia. As a Stafford County defense attorney, it’s also one of the most common cases we see from our offices in Stafford & Fredericksburg. While the overall potential of punishment is not as serious as many other criminal offenses, it’s still possible shoplifting charges can affect you now and into the future.
At Williams Stone Carpenter Buczek, PC, we treat a shoplifting theft case with an aggressive approach. We know how this type of charge includes immediate steep fines and jail time if convicted, but we also know that it will leave a permanent negative mark on your criminal record. We are talking about job opportunities, educational opportunities and having to explain yourself every time your criminal background is checked. You may be a college student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale or George Mason University in Fairfax. If this is you, your future is definitely important. We realize that sometimes such offenses are triggered by anxiety, traumatic stress, depression, and other stressors. We understand the connection and will seek to address these issues.
Are You Facing Shoplifting Charges in Northern Virginia?
While some may consider shoplifting or concealment of merchandise a minor offense that does not require a vigorous defense, there are complicating factors that an experienced criminal defense attorney would know how to address.
Our shoplifting defense attorneys will work as a team to build a powerful defense against the charges you are facing. We are adept at challenging evidence such as surveillance video footage and witness testimony that the prosecution relies upon. We will strive to protect your interests and attempt to avoid the consequences of a shoplifting conviction.
Depending on which Virginia County the incident occurred, it may be possible for a person charged with a first-time shoplifting offense to enter a program, and upon successful completion of that program to have the shoplifting charges dismissed. We can help you take full advantage of the leniency offered to first-time offenders.
Sometimes the accusations arise from innocent placement of merchandise somewhere in a shopping basket with the intention to pay for the item. However, when the person inadvertently forgets to pay for the item, the store in Virginia accuses the person of purposely hiding or concealing the merchandise with the intent to steal it. Sometimes good people make the mistake of falling to the temptation of trying to take an item from a store. Whatever the case may be, a charge of shoplifting, whether petit larceny or grand larceny must be taken seriously and defended against aggressively.
What Happens After You’re Arrested for Shoplifting
Most likely you will have time between your date of arrest and your actual day at court. Between that time is your best opportunity to speak with an attorney and learn your options.
If this is your first time being arrested, you should know there are programs available for people accused of a first-time shoplifting crime in Virginia. You may not need to have your day in court after all. If you have a prior arrest on your record, an experienced and aggressive criminal attorney still may be able to get you into one of these programs as well.
In some situations, it’s possible to get shoplifting cases dismissed by having your attorney simply meet with the prosecutor. If dismissal is not an option, your attorney still may be able to arrange participation in one of these alternative programs and you will avoid criminal prosecution.
Time is On Your Side
You have some time to work with. The earlier you call us after your shoplifting arrest, the more time we have to work within the system and try to avoid having a criminal case filed against you. Time gives you a better chance.
If charges end up being filed against you, they will most likely be one of the three main charges below:
Grand Larceny – theft of an item worth $5 or more from a person directly, stealing at least $200 worth of goods, or theft of a gun, no matter the value.
Petit Larceny – theft of something worth less than $5 from a person, or stealing less than $200 worth of items or goods from any location.
Burglary: Evidence shows that a person intended to commit a crime before entering a place of business or residence. This includes having tools to commit the crime or other evidence to show that the intent to steal was there. Burglary in Virginia is a class 3 felony, which brings five to 20 years in prison along with a large fine. Additional consequences for those who used a weapon during the burglary.
It’s Time to Call Williams Stone Carpenter Buczek, PC
The best outcome for your situation largely depends on proper handling of your case by an experienced and aggressive defense attorney. We’ve successfully been able to get our clients' criminal cases dismissed or lowered to an infraction in a petty theft prosecution.
If you are facing shoplifting or any other type of larceny charge in Northern Virginia, we are prepared to work with you and stand up for your rights. Contact us at 540-657-0111 to speak with an experienced shoplifting defense lawyer.