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Manual Legal Larceny

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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. Additionally, some jurisdictions hold that the defendant can be convicted, even if he does not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property, if he takes the property without caring one way or another whether the owner gets it back.

Legal Definition of Larceny: Everything You Need to Know

Further, if the defendant takes property from the victim with the intent of returning it after the victim pays a ransom price for it, the defendant can be convicted of larceny despite the fact that he does not technically intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property. If the defendant takes property from the victim with the intent of returning equivalent, but not identical, property to the victim, he cannot be convicted of larceny if the property is of a type where it will not make a difference to the victim whether the original property or its equivalent is returned to him.

Further, it is not considered larceny if a defendant takes property from the victim that he believes that the victim owes him. Gallegos , P.


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Under the Model Penal Code, which combines the various common law crimes against property into one larger crime called theft, the defendant can be convicted if he acted with the intent of depriving another person of the property that he has taken. According to the Model Penal Code, depriving a person of his property includes 1 withholding the property either permanently or for a long enough period of time that it has lost most of its economic value, 2 withholding property with the intent of returning it after the victim has paid a ransom price, or 3 getting rid of the property in a way that makes it unlikely that the owner will ever get it back.

However, the Model Penal Code does provide the defendant with three affirmative defenses with which to avoid a conviction for theft. If the defendant is charged with theft, he can avoid a conviction by showing that, 1 he was unaware that the property belonged to someone else, 2 he took the property under an honest claim of right to the property; or 3 the property was put up for sale and he took it with the intent of immediately buying it or reasonably believing that, had the owner been there, he would have consented to the defendant taking the property.

Criminal Law - Elements of an Offence

Since the joy riders do not intend to permanently deprive the owner of his property, and driving around the neighborhood does not constitute an action that creates a high risk that the property will be damaged or destroyed, joyriding is technically not larceny. For this reason, the Model Penal Code has eliminated the mens rea requirement for larceny so that no intent to permanently deprive the owner of his car is necessary in order to convict joyriders. Please note that, under the common law, in order to be convicted for larceny, the defendant must have intended to permanently deprive the owner of his property at the time he took it.

Petty Larceny Law and Legal Definition

If the defendant takes the property and then later formulates the intent he is not guilty of larceny. Coombs , 55 Me. In states where larceny is currently defined as a separate crime, it may include the crimes that were distinct from it under common law. Spanish Central: Translation of larceny. Nglish: Translation of larceny for Spanish Speakers. Britannica English: Translation of larceny for Arabic Speakers.

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What is Robbery?

Synonyms for larceny Synonyms robbery , stealing , theft , thievery Visit the Thesaurus for More. Examples of larceny in a Sentence He was arrested and charged with larceny. He has been accused of several larcenies. Recent Examples on the Web He was charged with larceny of a motor vehicle, fleeing to elude arrest and assault with a deadly weapon. First Known Use of larceny 15th century, in the meaning defined above.