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New law will increase felony larceny threshold from $200 to $500

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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Shuffling in and out of jail for years due to drug addictions, Lindsay Carpenter and Rachel tanner both have felony grand larceny convictions on their records.

Carpenter stole around $220 in merchandise from Wal Mart, and Tanner stole around $237 of stuff from Target.

"For drugs, I needed money," Tanner said.

"I was just trying to get money to buy drugs," Carpenter added.

Rachel Tanner and Lindsay Carpenter

If Henrico Jail inmates had stolen roughly 20-40 dollars less, they would have only faced misdemeanor charges, and they would never have to tell a potential employer about the charges.

But, most employers want to know if you have a felony on your record and what it is.

"If you have a felony grand larceny that's the first thing they're going to look at," Carpenter said.

In fact, currently, Virginia is tied for the lowest felony larceny threshold in the nation of $200.

Many states felony larceny threshold is $1000.

In Wisconsin, it's $2500.

Rachel Tanner

"When somebody has a felony grand larceny on their record it makes them almost unemployable," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said.

But that's changing July 1, 2018 thanks to a compromise between Democratic Governor Ralph Northam and the Republican Speaker of the House Kirk Cox.

Starting on July 1, anyone who steals anything worth $499 dollars or less will only be charged a misdemeanor, a change that Stone said has been a long time coming.

"It's been at 200 dollars since I think 1980 and with inflation you know the threshold for a felony grand larceny has effectively gone down," Stone said.

When the new law takes effect, it will not grandfather anyone in.

For example, if you've been convicted of grand larceny in the past for stealing $300 in merchandise, that won't change.

Virginia Democrats, Republicans reach deal on criminal justice reform

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) and Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R) announced a bipartisan agreement to pass a criminal justice reform package that includes raising the felony threshold for grand larceny and ensuring victims of crimes are paid restitution.

Currently, if a person steals an item valued at $200, they can be charged with felony grand larceny.  Norhtam said that threshold is the lowest in the country.  HB 1550 and SB 105 will raise the threshold to $500.  Advocacy groups and some Democrats had been pushing a $1,000 felony threshold, which would put have put Virginia in the middle of the pack nationwide, but Northam said the $500 level is a good start.

"It is unjust that a theft of something like a pair of shoes or a phone could send someone to prison with a felony conviction on their record for life," Northam said at the announcement.