How are Shoplifting and Concealment of Merchandise Punished in Virginia?

In Virginia, whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his or her 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 merchantile establishment, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or 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 in the offense is less than $500.00 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny.

More specifically, it is important to know that petit larceny is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $2500.00. On the other hand, grand larceny is punishable by up to 20 years in the Virginia Department of Corrections.

Under Virginia law, a merchant, agent or employee of the store owner who has probable cause to believe that a person has shoplifted on the premises of the store, is authorized to detain that person for a period not to exceed one hour prior to the arrival of a law enforcement officer. This is often referred to as the “shopkeeper’s privilege”.

If you are charged with shoplifting or concealment in Norfolk or another Hampton Roads jurisdiction, do not go to court alone. Be sure to consult with experienced local counsel before your court hearing.