Larceny is a theft crime that can be defined as the unlawful taking and carrying away of the personal property of another person, without their authorization or consent, and with the intent to permanently deprive that person of their personal property.

Although larceny is sometimes referred to as “common theft” or simply “theft”, it differs from theft in that it generally only applies to a person’s personal or tangible property, such as a book or jewelry.

Also, while larceny is a form of theft, a theft is not always categorized as larceny. Hence, why it is more appropriate to call it larceny or larceny theft, as opposed to just theft. It is important to note, however, that the conditions and exact definition of larceny may vary according to state and local statutes.

Finally, larceny generally starts off as a charge for a misdemeanor offense. However, if certain circumstances are present like the use of a deadly weapon while committing larceny, then it can be raised to the level of a felony offense. Felony charges usually result in more serious consequences than the penalties issued for misdemeanor crimes.

Are There Different Types of Larceny?

As discussed above, the state and local laws of a jurisdiction may determine how larceny is categorized. In the majority of states, larceny is often divided into several smaller subcategories of crimes. These subcategories generally include some form of the following labels:

  • Misdemeanor larceny: Misdemeanor larceny is usually defined as the theft of property that is below a certain dollar amount (e.g., $1,000). The minimum and maximum amounts can vary based on location. Also, in some states, misdemeanor larceny is sometimes called petty larceny or petty theft.
  • Felony larceny: In contrast, felony larceny is the theft of property above a certain dollar amount (usually between $3,000 and $5,000). Depending on the state, there are also various degrees or classes of felony larceny.
  • Grand larceny: Grand larceny is a type of theft included under felony larceny and usually involves a certain dollar amount, ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000 and greater. Grand larceny is a serious offense.
  • Constructive larceny: There are also certain types of larceny theft where the defendant may have initially received the property through legal means, but later on developed a criminal intent to keep it unlawfully. This scenario is known as constructive larceny.

In addition, other types of theft crimes can sometimes be governed by larceny statutes, such as embezzlement, larceny by trick, and shoplifting. Again, this will depend on the laws of each state.

What are the Penalties for Larceny Theft?

The penalties for larceny are typically based on the value of the property stolen. As previously mentioned, whether the charges filed against the defendant are categorized as a misdemeanor or a felony also gets taken into account before the court issues a sentence.

In situations where the defendant is convicted for the charge of misdemeanor larceny or petty larceny, their punishment might involve some criminal fines along with jail time that carries a term of up to one year.

In contrast, if the defendant is convicted of the charge of felony larceny, they could face legal consequences that include much higher fines and having to serve prison sentences that last for up to a year or longer.

As briefly discussed above, felony larceny can be divided into separate degrees or categories, such as a Class A or Class 1, depending on the value of the property stolen. More serious felony larceny charges (e.g., grand theft auto) may result in longer prison sentences, lasting between 5 to 15 years.

Finally, a defendant who commits larceny theft may have several criminal defenses available to claim against their charges. The type of defense that applies and whether or not the defendant is eligible for such an option, will depend on the laws and facts involved in each individual matter.

For example, the defendant may be able to use a defense against charges of grand theft if they can show that they lacked the intent to steal.

Alternatively, a defendant may also be able to get their punishment reduced if they can demonstrate that the value amount of their property did not amount to grand theft. For instance, if the defendant can show that the theft only amounted to petty theft, not grand theft, based on the dollar amount in the larceny statute, then their penalties will most likely be reduced.

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with Larceny Issues?

Given the variety of crimes that can be considered larceny theft and the varying degrees of punishment associated with these kinds of offenses, it may be in your best interest to hire a local criminal defense attorney if you are facing charges for larceny theft.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to determine what your legal options are, as well as the potential penalties you could face, and if there are any options for criminal defenses that may apply to your case.

Additionally, a lawyer will also be able to provide representation at any of your court hearings or case related meetings.