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The Threshold for Felony Larceny Just Increased in Virginia– But Is It Enough?

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Lawmakers in Virginia think they have taken great strides by increasing the threshold for felony larceny charges within the state. Now, the question is, are the new laws enough?

Previously, when a theft occurred that was over $200, it would automatically be considered a felony larceny. Felony charges are much more severe than misdemeanor charges, as employers always want to know what the felony charge was for. Many, after seeing a felony charge on someone’s record, will bar them from employment, regardless of what the charge was for.

Both Virginia’s Democratic Governor Ralph Northam and Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, have recently changed that though. Beginning on July 1, 2018, through a bipartisan agreement, the threshold for felony larceny charges  increased to $500. While the new law is a good step towards justice, many are wondering if it is enough.

“Even with the new law, the threshold in Virginia is still just half that of most states,” says Patrick Woolley of Price Benowitz LLP. “Most states have a threshold of $1,000 for felony larceny charges. Other states, such as Wisconsin, set their threshold as high as $2,500. The new law will not actually help many people, as theft of something as small as a cellphone could still be considered a felony larceny charge.”

Another unjust area of the law is that it will not apply to those that have already been convicted of a felony larceny charge. That means that those still serving time for a felony larceny conviction just over $200 will continue to do so. And those that have been released and are still trying to find employment may not find it any easier to do so because the felony larceny charge on their record will not change.

The new law was debated in the House before it was passed. Democrats fought for the $1,000 threshold that so many other states currently use. That motion was struck down and the $500 threshold was agreed upon by a majority. But it does leave many wondering if the new law is enough to bring justice to everyone within the state.