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Welcome to my Law blog specifically intended as an aid to law students. I will post comments and white papers, from time to time, and I am happy to carry on conversations with students who are in need of help in law school.


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I am a Professor of Law at Concord Law School, an Internet Law School located in Los Angeles, though I live, teach and otherwise work out of Lakewood, Colorado, resting up against the foothills just west of Denver.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

1 – Theft Crimes (Larceny)

1 – Theft Crimes (Larceny)

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING IS TAKEN FROM SOME OF MY CLASS NOTES, SOME OF WHICH IS MY OWN PERSONAL WORK AND SOME OF WHICH BELONGS TO CONCORD LAW SCHOOL.  IT IS POSTED TO HELP MY IL STUDENTS IN PARTICULAR.  IT CANNOT BE DISSEMINATED WITHOUT EXPRESS, WRITTEN PERMISSION.

Sometimes, theft crimes are referred to as “Crimes Against Property.” Generally, there are eight separate crimes: (1) Larceny, (2) Embezzlement, (3) False Pretenses, (4) Forgery, (5) Robbery, (6) Extortion, (7) Burglary and (8) Arson. First, let’s look at definitions for the first three and one related crime, Larceny by Trick.

Larceny is a trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive.

Larceny by trick is the trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive, and after obtaining possession (but not title) by means of written or oral lies and/or promises.

Embezzlement is the fraudulent conversion of the property of another by one who already has lawful possession of it.

False pretenses is a false representation of a material past or present fact which causes the victim to pass title to his property to the wrongdoer, while the defendant knows the representation to be false and intends thereby to defraud the victim.

Now, let’s start with a hypothetical:

Robert goes to the hardware store to purchase some supplies, but while he is there, he sees a power drill and decides to sneak out of the store without paying for it. After he has walked about half way to the front door of the store, with the drill under his coat, he has a change of mind, walks back to where he picked up the drill, pulls out the drill and attempts to put it back when he is confronted by the store manager, who detains Robert until the police come and arrest him. Is Robert guilty of larceny?

Yes, Robert would be guilty of larceny, if he placed the drill under his coat coupled with the intent to permanently deprive the store of the drill without paying for it. Remember that the elements are trespassory taking and carrying away, of the tangible personal property of another, with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. He didn’t make it out of the store, but his movement constitutes a sufficient taking and carrying away since the majority rule today is that the slightest movement is enough, so he would be guilty of larceny. If Robert were in a jurisdiction that requires more movement, for example, actually leaving the store, he would not be guilty of larceny, but he would be guilty of attempted larceny: Attempted larceny is defined as an act of perpetration coupled with the specific intent to commit the larceny.

Let’s assume that Robert took the drill, intending to take it to his work as a drywaller and return it the next evening. However, because his co-workers are so impressed with the drill, Robert decides to keep it. Now is Robert guilty of larceny?
Again, remember that the basic, common law rule is that the taking and carrying away must coincide with the intent to permanently deprive. Here, even though the taking was trespassory (without permission), if the taking was innocent, there would be no larceny. However, under the continuing trespass principle applicable in some jurisdictions, such an innocent taking can become larceny if the defendant later forms the intent to keep the property (permanently deprive).

Next time in crimes, we’ll look at embezzlement.

Professor Doug Holden
© 2010. Douglas S. Holden. All Rights Reserved.

2 comments:

  1. Do you mean 'Eight' separate crimes since there are 8 crimes that you listed?

    "Generally, there are FOUR separate crimes: (1) Larceny, (2) Embezzlement, (3) False Pretenses, (4) Forgery, (5) Robbery, (6) Extortion, (7) Burglary and (8) Arson."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Absolutely. Thanks for the "catch." I have made the change.

    ReplyDelete