The Differences Between Violent & Non-Violent Theft In Virginia

Categorized: Criminal Defense

Violent Theft Crimes vs. Non-violent Theft Crimes

The difference between violent theft crimes and non-violent theft crimes, as the terms indicate, turns on whether or not the theft involved the use of force on behalf of the accused.

Non-Violent Theft Crime

The penalty for a non-violent theft depends on the economic value of the stolen property. The line between a theft categorized as a misdemeanor or felony depends upon the value of goods or services stolen.

If it is over $500, it is ruled a Felony and can be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. If it is under $500, then it is ruled a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which is punishable with jail time up to 12 months and/or a fine up to $2,500.00. However, if the accused party already has two previous misdemeanors, then the third charge is ruled a felony even if the amount of goods stolen is under $500.


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Non-violent theft crimes are referred to as Larceny and can include

  • Shoplifting
  • Forgery
  • Writing bad checks
  • Petit larceny
  • Grand larceny
  • Auto theft
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle
  • Credit card fraud
  • Theft of services
  • Receiving stolen property

Violent Theft Crime

A violent theft crime involves assault or battery, use of a firearm/weapon or, other means of force. In Virginia, assault is defined as an attempt or offer, with force or violence, to do bodily harm to another person. Battery is defined as any non-consensual or unwanted, intentional touching. Both are classified as Class 1 Misdemeanors.

As such, a violent theft crime will come with heftier penalties because they involve two infractions. Any of the above non-violent theft crimes can become a violent theft crime with the addition of assault, battery, or use of a weapon and sometimes can result in other charges like abduction.

Each Case Is Unique

While there are definitional terms that classify crimes and inform rulings, it is essential to emphasize that each case is unique. The circumstances involved will play a factor in how the crimes are classified and the penalty the judge hands down. That’s why hiring an experienced attorney that can skillfully navigate each specific case according to its unique circumstances is so important. 

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