PDF Larceny

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However, house pets cannot be the subject of larceny. Intangible property cannot be the subject of larceny. Things like records and documents are considered merged into the things that they represent and are not considered property on their own. Modern statutes have expanded the list of properties that can be the subject of larceny. For example, under modern statutes, both real and intangible property can be the subject of larceny. Therefore, documents, records and stock certificates can be the subject of larceny. In addition, services, which are not considered property for larceny purposes under common law, can be the subject of a larceny under modern statutes.

In order to be convicted of larceny the defendant must have carried the property away. Please note that even the slightest movement of the property from one location to another is adequate for larceny purposes. However, the movement must be part of the act of carrying the property away. If the movement is made in preparation for carrying the property away it will not suffice. In order to be convicted of larceny the defendant must have actually taken the property.

This means that he must have acquired possession of the property.

Punishments for Felony Larceny

Usually, proof that the defendant carried the property away will also suffice to prove that he gained possession of it. Also, the taking can be accomplished directly by the defendant, or constructively, as in a scenario where the defendant causes an innocent agent to take the property for him. In addition, the defendant can only be convicted of larceny if the taking was wrongful. Therefore, if the victim consents to having his property taken the defendant cannot be convicted of larceny even if the defendant later changes his mind and demands his property back.

Such a conviction would be for the crime of "larceny by trick. However, a false promise to do something in the future in exchange for the receipt of goods now would not result in a larceny by trick conviction even if the defendant never had the intention of carrying out his original promise. However, some courts allow a false promise to be the basis for a larceny by trick conviction if the prosecution can prove that when the defendant made the promise, he misrepresented to the victim his present intent to keep the promise.

It should be noted that in a case where a person makes a promise he or she does not intend to keep for the purpose of tricking someone into giving him or her something, even if a larceny charge would not be sustainable, there are various federal fraud statutes that could criminalize such an act. In addition, a conviction for larceny requires that the property that the defendant takes must belong to another person. Please note that this does not mean that the other person must own the property.

Thus, a person can actually be convicted for taking his own property back from the victim if the victim has a greater right to possession than the defendant does at the time of the taking. As we have said before, since larceny requires the taking of the property of another, if the property is lawfully in the hands of the defendant already, he cannot be charged with larceny.

However, if the defendant only has custody over the property then he can be convicted of larceny. The difference between possession and custody is a factual one which turns on how much control the defendant is given over the property when the victim first gives it to him. If the defendant is given significant control over the property, he has possession of it and thus any taking and carrying away of the property with the intention of depriving the owner of it is not larceny. However, if the defendant is only given limited authority over the property, he only has custody of it and any taking and carrying away of the property with the intent of depriving the victim of it is considered larceny.

As far as the mens rea requirement for larceny is concerned, the defendant must act with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Please note that, as long as the defendant intended for the victim to be permanently deprived of the property, he can be convicted even if the victim is not permanently deprived of the property.

That being the case, if the defendant took and carried away the property of another with the intent of returning it, he cannot be convicted of larceny. See People v. Brown , Cal. Further, if the defendant takes the property without intending to permanently deprive the owner he can still be convicted of larceny if he took the property with the intent of doing something with it that would create a substantial risk of its permanent loss to the owner.

See State v. Langis , P. It was abolished [8] on 1 January , [9] for all purposes not relating to offences committed before that date. This offence did incorporate some of the terminology and substance of larceny. The common law offence of larceny was abolished [11] on 1 August , [12] for all purposes not relating to offences committed before that date. Larceny laws in the United States have their roots in common law , pursuant to which larceny involves the trespassory taking caption and carrying away asportation, removal of the tangible personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its possession.

Larceny is a crime against possession. Furthermore, it has two elements which must be met: the actual taking of the property, even if momentarily actus reus , and the culpable intent to deprive another of their property mens rea. Larceny involves the trespassory taking of property from possession of another, with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property.


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Examples of custody would be a store customer examining the goods of a merchant, or an employee who has been given the property of his employer to be used in his employment. This is to be contrasted to, for example, a person who has obtained actual possession of the property by fraud. Ancient Roman law first 50 years of written University law, possibly borrowing from Greek law there is no copy of was more lax about "simple possession"; it was assumed "borrowing" if there was no one to ask: unless or until other mitigating factors arose such as refusal to return promptly when asked. The taking or caption element requires that the offender take actual physical control of the property, if but for a moment.

Thus merely knocking an article from a person's hand was not larceny, as long as the defendant did not thereafter take it. The control must be complete.

EPIC ROCK - ''Man On Fire'' by Oh The Larceny

In a famous case, the defendant removed an overcoat from a department store mannequin and began to walk away with it. The overcoat was secured to the mannequin by a chain, a fact the defendant first discovered when the chain drew taut.

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Larceny From A Building

These actions were held not to be larceny because the defendant never had complete control over the disposition and use of the coat. The taking may be only momentary. In another famous case, [21] the defendant snatched an earring from the victim which immediately became entangled in the victim's hair. The court held that the defendant's control over the property, although momentary, was sufficient to constitute a taking. The taking may be either direct or indirect; that is, accomplished by the criminal himself or an innocent agent.

To "deprive" another of property means a to withhold it or cause it to be withheld from him permanently or for so extended a period or under such circumstances that the major portion of its economic value or benefit is lost to him, or b to dispose of the property in such manner or under such circumstances as to render it unlikely that an owner will recover such property. Traditionally, a thief must not only gain dominion over the property, but also must move it from its original position.

The slightest movement, a hair's breadth, is sufficient. As Professor Wayne LaFave noted, at its most literal this requirement renders the rotating of a doughnut a larceny, but not the rotating of a pie, [24] as all of the doughnut is moved through rotation while the pie's exact center remains in the same place when rotated. The movement must also be an actual asportation, rather than movement in preparation.

For example, [25] in one case the victim had left his wheelbarrow in his yard. As was his custom he turned the wheelbarrow upside down to avoid water collecting in the tub. The defendant intending to steal the wheelbarrow turned it over but was apprehended by the owner before he could push the wheelbarrow away.

The court held that the defendant's acts did not satisfy the asportation element of larceny because the movement of the wheelbarrow had merely been preparatory to the carrying away. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary that the property be removed from the owner's premises or be taken off his property for an asportation to be complete. The slightest movement from its original position with the intent to steal is enough. The problem is proof.

If a person picks up a package of steaks intending to steal them then changes her or his mind and puts the steak back in the meat counter, the crime of larceny has been committed but the state will have a difficult time proving it.


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However, if the thief conceals the steaks by sticking them inside clothing, his or her intent is rather clear. Of course, there could still be an innocent if bizarre explanation. That said, the asportation requirement is not universally required. In People v. Alamo , for example, the New York Court of Appeals eliminated the asportation requirement. In that case the defendant entered a stranger's car and turned on the car's lights and engine.

Turning it on suffices to establish that the thief has taken possession and control. Additionally, the Model Penal Code eliminates the asportation requirement and instead requires that the defendant "exercise unlawful control". This limitation means that acts of common-law larceny cannot be committed against land [35] or items attached to or forming part of land, such as buildings, trees or shrubbery , crops growing in the field, or minerals.

For example, if a person stole the Coca-Cola formula , the crime would be larceny but the grade of the offense would be determined by the value of the paper on which the formula was recorded not the value of the recipe. Theft of trade secrets would be a different offense. Services and labor, as well as intangible personal property incorporeal rights [18] such as contract rights and choses in action , [37] wills , codicils , or other testamentary documents; wild animals [18] and items having no economic value [38] cannot be the subjects of acts of common-law larceny.

Note: Most states have enacted statutes to expand the coverage of larceny to include most if not all of the items mentioned above.

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The restriction of the scope of larceny to personal property may have practical consequences. For example, a person may "steal" a central air conditioning unit by cutting the connections to the house, removing the unit from its concrete pad and hauling the disconnected unit away in a truck. In most jurisdictions, a central air conditioning unit changes from personal property to real property a fixture once it is attached to a building.

Modernly, severance of a fixture from the realty would convert the fixture from real property back to personal property. However, the common law stated that if the severance and carrying away of a fixture were one continuous act, no larceny would occur. The defendant's actions in this example would thus merely constitute damage to real property, and would further not result in possession of stolen property since no larceny had taken place.

The property taken must be "of another". Thus wild animals cannot be stolen. Nor can co-owners be guilty of larceny. Therefore, it is possible for the person who has title to the property to steal the property from a person who had lawful possession. For example, states provide that a person who repairs a car had a lien on the car to secure payment for the work. The lien is a possessory lien meaning the repair person has the lien as long as he maintains possession of the car. If the title owner were to take the car from the lienholder this action could be prosecuted as larceny in some jurisdictions.