Larceny: Taking or Stealing Personal Property

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Stealing money

Definition of Larceny

Larceny is a form of theft. Larceny involves the taking and carrying away of personal property without the owner’s consent. The terms ‘petty larceny’ and ‘grand larceny’ refer to the value of items that were taken.

Petty Larceny

Petty larceny is a term used in many states for theft of a small amount of money or items that have little value (such as less than $500). Petty larceny is considered to be a misdemeanor and is usually punishable at maximum with a term in the county jail. States which only use the term “larceny,” often treat theft of a smaller amounts as a misdemeanor in sentencing.

Grand Larceny

Grand larceny is the crime of theft of another’s property (including money) that exceeds a certain value (for example, $500). Grand larceny is distinguished from petty (or petit) larceny in which the value is below the grand larceny limit.

Some states only recognize the crime of larceny, but draw the line between a felony (punishable by state prison time) and a misdemeanor (local jail and/or fine) based on the amount of the loot.

For more legal definitions, visit our Glossary of Legal and Investigation Terms.

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