A person charged with grand larceny faces a possible felony conviction, a lengthy prison sentence, and fines. In addition, the conviction would be on the person’s criminal record—with long-term negative consequences for the rest of his life. However, a person may be able to raise defenses to get the charges dismissed or to enter into a plea agreement for a lesser charge, such as petty larceny, which is a misdemeanor that carries less severe penalties.
Four Possible Defenses to Grand Larceny
In order to be convicted of grand larceny in Virginia, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the following:
- The person took the personal property of another person.
- The taking of the property was without the consent and against the will of the owner of the property.
- The person intended to steal the property.
In addition, he must show the following about the value of the property:
- That the property was valued at over $200.
- If the property stolen was a firearm, it is considered grand larceny no matter what the value of the gun.
- The property was worth $5 or more, and the person took it directly from the owner.
The prosecutor must prove all elements of this crime beyond a reasonable doubt and establishing doubt as to any of these elements could be a defense to a grand larceny charge. Other defenses include the following:
- Claim of ownership. If the person could show a good faith belief that the property was his or that he had a valid claim to it, this may be a valid defense.
- Intoxication. A person intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs could try to establish that he was too intoxicated to have the intent to steal the property—one of the elements that must be proven to be convicted of grand larceny.
- Return of property. While returning the property that was stolen is not a valid defense, if a person intended to return the property and believed he was borrowing it, he could raise this defense.
- Entrapment. If the idea or intent to steal the property came from someone trying to entrap the accused person, the entrapment victim could raise entrapment as a defense.
If you’ve been charged with grand larceny, these are a few of the defenses you may be able to raise. An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain to you all of the defenses that could help get the charges dismissed or a favorable plea agreement for reduced charges. Start an online chat to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you.