Criminal Theft Offenses: Larceny
Generally speaking, a theft offense is classified as a crime against property. Most people are familiar with the idea of stealing something that does not belong to them and understand that it is a criminal offense to steal something that does not belong to them. For example, shoplifitng is a theft offense. Larceny is a theft offense classified as a crime against property. It is a trespassory taking of property that rises to a level beyond just a civil action and is criminal in nature.
At common law, larceny was defined as the (1) taking (2) and trespassory carrying away (asportation-the carrying away of personal property of another) (3) of tangible personal property (4) of another (5) with the intent to permanently deprive that person of said property. Shoplifitng would be an easily understandable example to apply to this definition.
California Statutory law has modified the common law definitional requirements for a larceny. California Penal Code Section 484 defines Larceny as follows: (a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft.
In addition, California law has varying degrees of larceny and will categorize the larceny such as petty theft or grand theft depending on the value of the larceny. (Ca Penal Code 486). Pursuant to California Penal Code section 487, grand theft is theft committed when the money, labor, or real or personal property taken is of a value exceeding nine hundred fifty dollars $950. Generally speaking, pursaunt to California Penal Code section 488, theft in other cases is petty theft.
At common law, Larceny was a specific intent crime. Loosley translated this means that the Defendant must have intented to permanently deprive the victim of his property at the the time of the taking of the property the defendant is accused of taking. Thus intent or lack thereof was applicable in defending a charge of larceny, larceny by trick, larceny by false pretenses, shoplifting, etc.
In California, what defenses would be applicable to a criminal charge of grand theft or petty theft? Is shoplifting grand theft or petty theft? Does it matter what the criminal defendant's intent was at the time of the alleged shoplifting incident? What legal defenses are available in California to the criminal charge of shoplifting? Should I consult with a lawyer for the criminal charge of shoplifitng or any other theft offense? What due process of law is a criminal defendant entitled to when defending a criminal charge of larceny? What is the criminal court process in a criminal larceny case?
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