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Proposal in Virginia to raise grand larceny threshold

Readers in Fairfax County will be interested to hear that a Virginia legislator recently proposed increasing the state's extremely low felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500 or $750. Virginia has one of the lowest grand larceny thresholds in the country. Currently, if a person is accused of stealing an item that is valued at less than $200, the charge is petit larceny, a misdemeanor. But if a person is accused of stealing something that is valued at $200 dollars or more, the suspect is usually charged with grand larceny, a felony. In that case, upon conviction, the individual would lose the right to vote, as well as carry the felony conviction on record for years to come.

Senator Bryce Reeves has proposed two bills -- Senate Bills 71 and 72 -- that aim to raise the grand larceny threshold to $500 or $750, respectively. In addition to resulting in fairer charges against larceny suspects, the proposed bills would likely reduce the number of felony cases seen by Virginia courts.

Reportedly, Fredericksburg recorded 115 grand larceny charges in 2011, the most since 2007, when 151 charges were recorded. A Fredericksburg Commonwealth attorney said that a higher grand larceny threshold would be more realistic than the current $200 one. "During these times," she said, "$200 is not what it used to be."

To get a sense of just how low the felony larceny threshold is in Virginia, readers may want to consider New York and North Carolina, which both have a threshold of $1,000. Alaska's grand larceny threshold is $500, while California's is $400.

A primary aspect of a solid criminal defense is to combat the over-charging or over-sentencing of an accused individual. Any Virginia resident who is facing theft or larceny charges will want to consult with a legal professional who stays abreast of changes to the law that may affect a criminal case.

Source: Fredericksburg Patch, "Grand Larceny Threshold May Increase," Dan Telvock, Jan. 17, 2012

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