What Should You Do if Accused of a Theft Crime?
The legal term larceny covers a wide range of theft offenses. Under Virginia law, there are two primary categories of larceny offenses: misdemeanor and felony charges. If convicted, thefts of assets with a value less than $1,000 are misdemeanor offenses. For a theft offense of assets valued at $1,000 or more, a larceny conviction is a felony in Virginia.
If you are accused of a theft crime, you must take these charges very seriously, even if the items supposedly stolen were of minor value. That conviction can come with several long-lasting consequences that may limit your prospects in employment, housing, loans, and more.
The best way to respond to theft accusations is to retain professional legal counsel in the form of an experienced theft crime attorney. Our Virginia law firm has years of experience representing clients accused of theft crimes. To defend your case or help reduce the charges if you’ve been charged, consult our legal team for advice.
What Are the Penalties for a Theft Conviction?
The penalties for a theft conviction largely depends upon the facts surrounding the case. For example, a misdemeanor crime will result in consequences that may seem tame compared to a felony conviction. However, even within the felony conviction category, there may be different consequences for different factual situations.
The sentence for a misdemeanor may be up to a twelve months in jail, a $2500 fine, restitution orders, probation, attendance in a class or community service, or some combination of them all.
For a felony conviction for grand larceny, a defendant is facing up to 20 years in prison, fines up to $2500, supervised probation, restitution orders, or some combination of them all.
What is Restitution?
Restitution is a court order for the defendant to compensate the victim for the losses suffered due to the theft crime. Every state has different laws on how defendants repay their victims after a criminal conviction. Restitution is considered in every criminal law sentencing, even when the victim does not request it.
You should understand that fines and restitution are two different financial requirements for the defendant. They are not the same. Fines are meant to punish defendants for the crime they committed. Restitution is intended to repay victims for their losses.
When is Restitution Ordered?
Restitution is typically ordered when the prosecutor can prove the amount stolen, and is necessary to make the victim of the crime whole again since they suffered financial losses as a direct result of the criminal offense.
Restitution is required for some crimes by multiple states. Around the country, restitution may be required for hate crimes, domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, identity theft, and drunk driving, depending on the state.
In federal court, the Financial Litigation Unit (FLU) is responsible for enforcing orders of restitution and monitoring the collection of criminal debts owed to the United States after conviction of a federal crime. The FLU has no jurisdiction to enforce state court orders to collect fines, restitution or other costs owed for state criminal cases. The FLU will attempt to enforce federal restitution orders by various means following the original restitution court orders. However, many plaintiffs will only receive part of the ordered restitution. The reason is that many defendants do not have adequate assets to repay the restitution ordered. While defendants may attempt to make partial repayments of restitution over the years, they may never satisfactorily repay all of it, much to the dismay of the victims.
Can Restitution Orders Be Reduced?
It may be possible to have restitution orders reduced via a plea bargain negotiated by a highly skilled criminal defense attorney. Although restitution may be required, or at least considered by the judge, the chance of negotiating for lower and more achievable terms always exists.
Whether you want restitution orders reduced or dropped, working with a skilled criminal defender is highly advisable.
Can Restitution Be Avoided Entirely?
In some cases, provided that the stolen property is promptly returned in the same condition in which it was stolen, restitution may not be ordered; however, that being said, this is not necessarily the norm. The courts are forced to at least consider restitution orders for every theft crime in Virginia.
As noted previously, there are several cases where someone cannot repay the restitution to a victim because they simply do not have the means to do so. This should not be taken as a way to escape accountability, though. While it may be realistically impossible to repay everything that is owed, attempts will still be made if the orders are in place.
Additionally, the victim may opt to have the restitution orders waived. Ultimately, the victim has no say in whether or not restitution is considered or ordered. But they may be able to have a say in whether the efforts to collect restitution is later dropped.
Contact Our Law Firm to Schedule a Case Evaluation
Whether you’ve recently been accused of theft crimes or you have already been convicted, it is imperative that you work with a skilled criminal defense attorney to represent your case. Our Roanoke, Virginia, law office represents clients accused of various criminal offenses, including misdemeanor and felony theft crimes. With a strong plea bargain, it is possible to have your restitution orders reduced or dropped, but there can be no guarantees in criminal law. The sooner a lawyer from our law firm has the chance to review your case, the better.
To schedule your initial consultation with our experienced legal team, please contact us at (540) 384-4585.