Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Larceny is a crime involving stealing. Under common law, larceny is the 1) trespassory 2) taking and asportation 3) of the (tangible) personal property 4) of another 5) with the intent to deprive him of it 6) permanently.
Trespass limits the crime to acts which involve a violation of the right of possession--that is, lawful posession prior to the act negates trespass (see embezzlement). Even if the prior owner did not have possession (as in, lost or misplaced), then he is deemed to still have constructive possession. Therefore, if a finder knew or could determine who the owner was, and at the time he found it intended to keep it, then the finder has committed trespass. Generally, however, the law cannot convict a finder unless the property bore some indication it belonged to somebody, and the finder intended to keep it at the time of the finding. (Model Penal Code sec. 223.5)
Asportation and taking involve physical movement of the property. That is, if the property is not moved, then there is no larceny. Furthermore, if a person (T) tells the other (I) that the item is his (T's), then authorizes I to take it, and I takes off with it, it is T whom the law deems to have asported--because I is protected by the fiction of innocent agency. Taking is typically defined as exercising control and dominion over the property.
Larceny under common law never applied to real property, or services. However, in the U.S., the Model Penal Code (MPC) states that services can be the subject of theft. Wild animals (ferrae naturae) are deemed to not be the property of the owner of whatever land they are found on, so takings of wild animals are also not subject to larceny.
One cannot "steal" one's own property. However, larceny is a crime of possession, not ownership. If a vehicle is under possession of a mechanic, and the owner takes the vehicle, he could be guilty of larceny. (This is also known as the mechanic's lien.)
Intent requires that one intended to deprive the possessor "permanently" of the property. Although the mens rea of larceny is the intent to steal, the focus is on the loss to the possessor, not the gain to the defendant. Thus, even if the thief did not gain in the taking, if the possessor lost in the process. Courts have also held that permanence can be more than keeping forever. Permanence can include the intent to deprive the possessor of economic significance, even if he plans on returning it later. Unfortunately, the mens rea and actus reus must coincide. If one rents a car with intent to return, then decides to keep it, then there is no larceny (see embezzlement).
In most of the United States the common law definitions of certain crimes have been modified. Quite often the general crime of theft has replaced larceny, and most related common law and statutory crimes such as embezzlement, false pretenses, robbery, and receipt of stolen property.
Larceny by Trick or Deception occurs when the victim of larceny is tricked by a misrepresentation of fact into giving up possession of property. This should not be confused with False_Pretenses, where the victim is tricked into giving up title to the property.
Grand larceny is typically defined as larceny of a significant amount of property. In the U.S., it is often defined as an amount valued at $200 or more. Grand larceny is often classified as a felony with the concomitant possibility of a harsher sentence. Because of its distinctive meter, the phrase is often heard in the lyrics of gangsta rap compositions.
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