RICHMOND, Va. – Stealing a $230 pair of eyeglasses would land you a misdemeanor conviction in most states. Shoplifting the same item in Virginia could make you a felon for life.
At least 30 states have raised the dollar minimum for felony charges in the last two decades in order to keep pace with inflation. Not Virginia, which hasn't raised its felony bar from $200 since 1980.
A bill to make anything less than $500 a misdemeanor sailed through the Republican-controlled Senate this year, but was stymied in a GOP-led House committee.
Critics say Virginia's policy is overly harsh without doing anything to prevent crime.
Virginia retailers say shoplifters are often part of organized retail crime rings and are well aware of the state's larceny threshold. They say the policy deters theft.