Larceny is the unlawful removal of someone else’s property with the intention of depriving the rightful owner of this property on a permanent basis. It is typically used in reference to any form of theft that is non-violent in nature and that does not entail the sale of stolen goods for profit. This term was coined in 17th century England where it was used by the royal courts. In the United States, however, larceny has been eliminated from statutory codes in many jurisdictions. A statute for general theft is often used in its stead.
Terms That Are Used Interchangeably
Many people make the mistake of using robbery, theft and larceny to describe the same or similar events. In reality, however, each of these terms can mean very different things. For instance, burglary implies that the criminal had to break into and unlawfully enter the victim’s property in order to access his or her goods. Theft is commonly associated with crimes that are committed with the intention of selling the stolen goods for profit and may or may not include unlawful entry, which would be recorded as a second and separate charge. Larceny, however, does not require breaking and entering and the accused party does not have the intention of selling the items that he or she steals. These will instead be retained for personal use. Taking an unguarded electronic device from a public area, such as a cell phone, tablet or laptop is one example of larceny.
Petty Larceny And Grand Larceny
With petty larceny, the property that is taken has a very small amount of monetary value. Grand larceny is used when charging people for having taken items that are much higher in value. The monetary amount that differentiates petty larceny from grand larceny can vary from one jurisdiction to another. Those who are convicted of petty larceny will often serve jail time, whereas grand larceny will likely warrant a prison sentence. Crimes such as embezzlement, extortion and fraud are all forms of grand theft rather than grand larceny, given the highly complex nature of these activities.
The methods, means and motivations for a crime will all play roles in determining he related charges. Larceny is typically used in instances of non-violent crimes involving personal items that are relatively small in value. When violence, unlawful entry and the intent to sell stolen items exist, larceny is not likely to be the charge that is levied against the suspect.
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