Have you or a close friend been charged with shoplifting in the Fredericksburg Area?
Under Virginia law, shoplifting is defined by the following statute:
§ 18.2-103. Concealing or taking possession of merchandise; altering price tags; transferring goods from one container to another; counseling, etc., another in performance of such acts.
Whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own or another's use without having paid the full purchase price thereof, or of defrauding the owner of the value of the goods or merchandise, (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another, or (iii) counsels, assists, aids or abets another in the performance of any of the above acts, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is less than $200, shall be guilty of petit larceny and, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is $200 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny. The willful concealment of goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, while still on the premises thereof, shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to convert and defraud the owner thereof out of the value of the goods or merchandise.
This Virginia law makes it unlawful to take property with the intent to make it your own, to alter a price tag or to help another person commit the crime of shoplifting. Value of the goods will determine whether the charge will be a misdemeanor or a felony. If the value is less than $200, then the charge should be a misdemeanor. If the value of the goods in question is $200 or more, then the charge should be a felony.
If you are charged with shoplifting in the Fredericksburg area you may be asking yourself, "what options do I have?".
In the Fredericksburg area, an option available to many defendants is first offender. Under first offender and with the assistance of a Fredericksburg attorney, the defendant would admit the facts would be sufficient for a finding of guilt. Instead of finding the defendant guilty of the crime, the case would be continued for 6 months. During the 6 month period the defendant shall complete 40 hours of community service, the stop thief program and will be placed on Community Based Probation. The stop thief program is an educational class that teaches the defendant the negative consequences shoplifting has on others. If the defendant successfully completes the requirements the court will dismiss the charge after the 6month probation period. This means that your record will remain clean and the conviction will not follow you forever.
Fredericksburg area shoplifting convictions can have consequences that drastically impact people's lives. The consequences can include losing your job, affecting your ability to gain future employment, affecting your ability to keep or acquire a security clearance, etc.
This option is NOT automatic and is not available to all defendants. The factors taken into consideration include but are not limited to; the defendant's age, education, background, prior criminal history, value of merchandise taken, specific facts of the case, etc.
You will need an experienced and aggressive Fredericksburg Area Criminal Attorney to fight for first offender status. First offender is only available if your attorney can convince the Commonwealth Attorney that your are a qualified and acceptable candidate for this opportunity.
Over the years I have been able to obtain first offender for many clients in the Fredericksburg/Spotsylvania area. If you are charged with shoplifting in Fredericksburg, contact Fredericksburg Area Attorney Darren Meyer for a free consultation.
Darren Meyer, Attorney at Law