Elements of Theft

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What Is Theft?

Theft, also known as larceny, can be defined as the wrongful taking and carrying away of the property, such as money or gas, of another with the intent to deprive the person of the property permanently. Theft can be committed in a number of different ways, many of which are described below.

What Are the Elements of Theft?

In order to be properly convicted of theft, all of the following elements must be proven:

It is a defense in most cases of theft if the thief reasonably believed the property belonged to him.

What Are the Types of Theft?

The specific elements needed to prove theft depend on the type of theft committed.

Auto Theft: Theft of a motor vehicle. Motor vehicles include cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, etc.

Petty Theft: The theft of anything with a value less than a specified money amount. In most states, theft of anything under a value of $400 is petty theft. Petty theft is usually a misdemeanor.

Felony Theft: Sometimes also known as grand theft, is theft of anything over a specified value, usually over $400. As indicated by the name, this type of theft is a felony.

Theft by Embezzlement: Embezzlement occurs when you take property that has been entrusted to you. It is necessary that the property be acquired through a relationship of trust, also known as a fiduciary relationship.

Theft by Forced Entry: Theft by forced entry onto a property, such as a house, room, apartment, motor vehicle or tent, is considered burglary. Note that the thief does not have to actually break into the property for it to be burglary. Trespass, entry without consent, is enough to trigger burglary if the trespass was committed to enable theft.

Theft by Force: Theft through the use of force or fear of force is known as robbery. Note that the actual application of force is not required; the victim merely has to be afraid of the thief for the crime to be considered robbery. Robbery may be enhanced, be given extra punishment, if a deadly weapon was used to commit the crime.

Theft by Deception: There are two kinds of theft by deception. One is called false pretenses and the other is known as larceny by trick.

Theft By Possession: This occurs when you are in possession of stolen property. In order to be guilty of theft by possession, you must have possession of stolen property, know that it is stolen or have reason to believe it probably was stolen, and meet the other elements of theft.

What Can You Do If You Are Accused of Theft?

If you are accused of theft you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the criminal justice system. A criminal defense lawyer has the experience and knowledge to help defend you.

What If I Am a Victim of Theft?

If you are a victim of theft you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will forward your case to the Prosecutor’s office to prosecute the person who committed the crime against you.

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Last Modified: 11-29-2016 10:10 AM PST

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