Virginia Increases Felony Larceny Threshold
The “larceny threshold” is the dividing line between misdemeanor and felony theft. Until this year, Virginia’s threshold for felony larceny remained at $200 -- the same as when it was enacted in 1980 -- and was the lowest in the country. What this meant in practice is that Virginia prosecutors had more power to make felons out of minor property offenders than prosecutors in any other state; for the theft of one outdated cell phone, for example, a couple of sweaters from a department store, or a well-used bicycle left unlocked on a rack. Bills to raise the threshold had been proposed year after year, only to be killed in the Virginia General Assembly.
That is, until this year. As of July 1, 2018, Virginia's larceny threshold is now $500, thanks to legislation passed by the House of Delegates during its session earlier this year. The increase, while not as large as advocates had hoped -- $500 is less than what it would have been had it simply been tied to inflation -- still represents a major step forward for the Commonwealth, which is slowly pulling itself out of the dark ages of criminal justice.
Raising the felony larceny threshold was one of Justice Forward's main legislative priorities in 2018, and was a focus (along with discovery reform) of its "Defenders for Discovery Reform" Lobby Day.