Senate votes to raise felony larceny threshold

policeThe Senate approved and sent to the House a bill to raise the threshold for felony larceny from $200 to $500. The measure, introduced by Sen. Bryce Reeves (R – Spotsylvania), mirrored bills introduced by numerous Democrats — both this year and in the past. SB 23 passed 26-14, with all nineteen Democrats supporting and two-thirds of Republicans opposed.

Said Sen. Louise Lucas (D – Portsmouth), a chief co-patron of the bill, “Today, $200 buys a lot less than it bought when we last changed the law. Because of inflation, we’ve been imposing life-altering consequences for increasingly minor offenses. This bill will mean fairer sentences — and second chances for many who deserve them.”

Said Sen. Donald McEachin (D – Henrico), who introduced a similar bill, “The felony threshold hasn’t changed in decades, and it’s high time it was raised. Young people are facing tougher and tougher penalties for smaller and smaller mistakes. That’s unjust, and I’m pleased the Senate has moved to right this wrong.”

Democrats this year introduced at least four bills to raise the felony threshold: Sen. Scott Surovell’s (D – Fairfax) SB 177, Sen. Lucas’ SB 226, Sen. Chap Petersen’s (D – Fairfax) SB 235, and Sen. McEachin’s SB 310.

Similar measures have passed in the past, including SB 1234 in 2015. 2015 was an election year for all 40 senators; five Republicans who voted for that bill opposed this year’s bill. They are:

Sen. Bill Carrico (R – Grayson)
Sen. Ben Chafin (R – Russell)
Sen. Frank Ruff (R – Mecklenburg)
Sen. Bill Stanley (R – Franklin)
Sen. Jill Vogel (R – Fauquier)

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