Porch Pirates and Package Theft Charges in VA

Stealing packages from someone else’s porch is a more severe crime than people think. Many assume they’ll get a slap on the wrist and not face significant consequences. However, package theft is a serious offense.

The Commonwealth of Virginia might sentence a defendant to imprisonment. Since stealing another person’s mail is a federal crime, a federal prison sentence is possible.

Online shopping created an opportunity for individuals to take packages from someone’s home before they’re able to bring them inside. Porch piracy has led to an increase in home security. Now package theft is easier to prosecute because Ring doorbells, security cameras, and other devices catch the perpetrator in the act.

You should not pursue your case without legal representation if you get arrested for package theft. It is a serious criminal offense. You need an experienced attorney to defend you against your charges and fight for a reduced sentence or dismissed case.

Charges Related to Porch Piracy

A porch pirate is a person who steals someone’s packages from their front door or porch. Porch piracy was once considered a minor offense, but now anyone convicted of package theft can face federal charges.

In Virginia, the legal term for stealing from someone else is larceny. Larceny is wrongfully or fraudulently taking another person’s personal goods without their permission and intending to deprive them of the goods permanently.

Larceny falls under two classifications depending on the property’s total value:

  • Petit larceny – Petit larceny is taking money or another thing of value. It can involve stealing something of value of less than $5 from a person directly or taking something of less than $1,000 in value not from the person. In other words, taking something “not from a person” can mean stealing packages from a porch worth less than $1,000.
  • Grand larceny – Grand larceny involves taking property from a person with a value of $5 or more or stealing goods with a value of at least $1,000, not from the person. 

Sentencing for Package Theft in Virginia

The Commonwealth of Virginia charges larceny based on the value of the stolen property. Charges for petit and grand larceny come with maximum sentencing guidelines. The judge can increase or decrease the sentence upon conviction depending on contributing factors, such as the defendant’s criminal history.

Petit larceny is a Class 1 misdemeanor crime. Sentencing can include:

  • No more than a $2,500 fine
  • A maximum of twelve months in jail

Grand larceny is a felony, punishable by:

  • Up to a $2,500 fine
  • Between one and twenty years in prison

U.S. Code 18 Section 1708 defines mail theft as the theft of mail that isn’t yours. Mail can be any package, postal card, box, bag, or letter. Porch piracy falls under this federal law. If convicted at the federal level, a federal sentence will apply, including:

  • A maximum of a $250,000 fine
  • Up to five years in federal prison

If you’ve been arrested or charged, your best chance of avoiding a criminal conviction for package theft is to hire an experienced defense lawyer. You need someone knowledgeable about the laws and legal process to determine an appropriate defense.

Contact Pincus Goodman, P.C. Today

At Pincus Goodman, P.C., our criminal defense lawyers in Virginia Beach, VA, have defended clients charged with larceny since 2003. We will create an effective legal strategy to try to get the charges dropped and secure your freedom.

If you were arrested or charged with package theft in Virginia Beach, do not hesitate to contact Pincus Goodman, P.C. We can review your case and determine what we can do to help. Call us today at (757) 301-9634 or reach out to us online for a confidential consultation.


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