Larceny is Theft
Larceny is not a word that we use very often, but Creek County, Oklahoma prosecutors use it a lot. This crime is a theft involving deceit or stealth. It is a technical term for theft. In Oklahoma, the crime is categorized into grand larceny, which involves a big amount, and petit larceny, which is a smaller theft. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1703
Both “grand” and “petit” are French terms.
Petit larceny is basically petty theft.
Oklahoma law defines larceny as the taking of another’s personal property by fraud or stealth, with the intent to deprive. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1701
The crime is grounded in deceit or stealth. Meaning, theft when it is done overtly or in an aggressive manner, is usually charged as a different crime — often a more serious one.
In order to understand petit larceny, you need to understand grand larceny first.
Grand larceny is either a taking of property worth $1,000 or more, or the taking of property directly from the person of another regardless of the value of the property taken.
All other larceny is petit larceny. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1704
That means that a pickpocket taking property from another, taking a wallet or cell phone, may be convicted of a felony. However, the taking of the same phone from a desk at a person’s house may be a misdemeanor crime, as long as the phone is worth less than $1,000.
Elements and Defenses
In order to secure a conviction, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a heavy burden and often difficult to prove.
Here are the elements of grand larceny in Oklahoma:
- carrying away;
- personal property;
- of another;
- of value;
- by fraud or stealth; and
- with the intent to permanently deprive.
Every element of the crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Facts or evidence that go toward disproving an element constitute viable defenses to the crime.
For example, if the property actually belongs to you, but you are taking it back, there is no larceny.
If you have no intent to take it away and return it, there is no intent to permanently deprive.
Borrowing an item with the intent to return it later precludes a finding of an intent to permanently deprive.
In all of these examples, an element is disproven.
Case law has added a “carrying away” as a distinct element. However, even a slight amount of transportation is all that is needed to meet this element.
Let’s say you pick up a cell phone from a desk, pocket it, and leave the room; that may be enough to meet this element.
However, if you pick up the cell phone, look at it, and replace it, the “carrying away” element may not be met.
Even if another person actually owns the property, if you have disturbed the holder’s right to possession of that property, the element of “belonging to another” will have been met.
Finding (and Keeping) Lost Property
In Oklahoma, you must try to return lost property if there is sufficient means or knowledge to try to do so. If you keep property that could reasonably be returned, you can be convicted of larceny. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1702
Penalties for Petit Larceny
The penalty for petit larceny is a fine between $10 and $500, up to six months in jail, or both. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1706
Whenever you are facing the possibility of jail time, you want to get the help you need. An experienced Sapulpa criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your freedom. Hire an attorney today.
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