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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 34265
Experience:  16 yrs. of experience including criminal law.
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hi, i returned a merchandise item with the wrong tag, the store

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hi, i returned a merchandise item with the wrong tag, the store was suspicious of my item, but they let me return it anyway. So after the return, I shopped in the same store, and found some items I wanted to buy, when I approach the counter to pay for my item, the lady that did my returned turned around and made a call and I heard she said, "she's here". and looked at me. It seems like when she say "she's here", she was referring to me. I guess my question is, what are the penalties for returning a fraudulent item?
Thanks for the chance to assist

If you return an item fraudulently this would be a form of theft.

here is the code

Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-103 (2009)

§ 18.2-103. Concealing or taking possession of merchandise; altering price tags; transferring goods from one container to another; counseling, etc., another in performance of such acts

   Whoever, without authority, with the intention of converting goods or merchandise to his own or another's use without having paid the full purchase price thereof, or of defrauding the owner of the value of the goods or merchandise, (i) willfully conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, or (ii) alters the price tag or other price marking on such goods or merchandise, or transfers the goods from one container to another, or (iii) counsels, assists, aids or abets another in the performance of any of the above acts, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is less than $ 200, shall be guilty of petit larceny and, when the value of the goods or merchandise involved in the offense is $ 200 or more, shall be guilty of grand larceny. The willful concealment of goods or merchandise of any store or other mercantile establishment, while still on the premises thereof, shall be prima facie evidence of an intent to convert and defraud the owner thereof out of the value of the goods or merchandise.

So, depending on the amount, it will be either a misdemeanor or a felony.   First offense typically would involve probation and perhaps a fine.

Please let me know if you have further questions; if so I will do my best to answer them. If not please hit the accept button, its the only way I get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Since they didn't say anything to me about this fraudulent returned item, how likely will I be in trouble? Do they have to catch me on the spot in order to prosecute me? If they decided to do an investigation on the item, how long can they keep this open? I am just not sure how long I should be worrying about this. and what would happen if they did an investigation and found out that the item is fradulent?

The do not need to catch you on the spot...but it would make the case much stronger...if you have not yet been arrested I suspect you will not be.

That said, the statute of limitations is at least a they could investigate...but if they have not yet, unless new evidence comes to light it is not likely they will

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
sorry for all these questions. Do they have to notify me if they do an investigation? The statute of limitations is at least a year, what does that mean? does that mean they can investigate for 10 years? what is the worst fine for this situation? would I be put in jail? or a fine? what is the max fine dollar amount? I just want to prepare myself for the worst that could happen. thanks
In VA statute of limitations for theft is 5 years.

They do not need to notify you, but if they ask to question you, I recommend you decline unless you have an attorney with you.

If this is a first offense, it is not likely you would go to jail, but it is likely you would get a fine and probation.

This page will give more info on fines

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