Being convicted of a felony crime can have a significantly negative impact on a person’s life. Not only will a person have to spend time in jail and pay fines, but that person will incur a criminal record that will show up on any background checks performed. This could make it difficult for that person to find housing or a job after being released from prison, putting that person’s life into an even more precarious state. Needless to say, it is important that people in Virginia aren’t unduly convicted of felonies.
The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, has approved a bill that would raise Virginia’s felony theft threshold. Prior to the signing of this legislation, if a person stole money or items worth $200 or more, this would constitute felony theft. However, that amount has now been raised to $500.
This is significant, as it may mean that fewer people who only commit minor theft crimes will not be saddled with a felony conviction that could affect the rest of their lives. Only the most serious crimes should be considered felonies. Our criminal court system is already overburdened, and heavy-handed, draconian laws that make minor crimes felonies only adds to the problem.
People should not suffer the rest of their life just because they made one poor decision or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. When it comes to theft crimes, defenses exist that could help a person avoid conviction. By making sure one uses the proper defenses in their trial, it may be possible that a felony theft charge is reduced to a misdemeanor charge, or is dropped altogether.
Source: wmdt.com, “Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signs a bill that would raise the felony theft threshold,” April 4, 2018