Larceny – the unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else’s tangible personal property with the intent to deprive the possessor of it permanently

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n. (15c)

1. The unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else’s tangible personal property with the intent to deprive the possessor of it permanently.  *  Common-law larceny has been broadened by some statutes to include embezzlement and false pretenses, all three of which are often subsumed under the statutory crime of theft.  Cf. ROBBERY. [1]

1. Stealing or theft. People v Campbell, 89 Cal App 646, 265 P 364. — aka larcyn.

At common law: — the felony of taking by trespass and carrying away the goods or things personal of another, without the latter’s consent and with the felonious intent permanently to deprive the owner of his property and to convert it to the taker’s own use or the use of some person other than the owner. 32 Am J 1st Larc § 2.

As a statutory offense, the taking of personal property accomplished by fraud or stealth, with intent to deprive another thereof. State v Ugland, 48 ND 841. 187 NW 237; the felonious stealing, taking, and carrying, leading, riding, or driving away the Personal property of another. People v Lardner, 300 I11 264, 133 NE 375, 19 ALR 721. [2]

1. The crime of taking personal property, without consent, with the intent to convert it to the use of someone other than the owner or to deprive the owner of it permanently.  Larceny does not involve the use of force or the threat of force. [3]

     Excerpt from Stephen’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (L. Crispin Warmington ed., 21st ed. 1950):

     “The criminal offence of larceny or theft in the Common Law was intimately connected with the civil wrong of trespass. ‘Where there has been no trespass,’ said Lord Coleridge, ‘there can at law common be no larceny.’ Larceny, in other words, is merely a particular kind of trespass to goods which, by virtue of the trespasser’s intent, is converted into a crime. Trespass is a wrong, not to ownership but to possession, and theft, therefore, is not the violation of a person’s right to ownership, but the infringement of his possession, accompanied with a particular criminal intent. [4]

     Excerpt from Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce’s Criminal Law (3d ed. 1982):

      “[T]he distinctions between larceny, embezzlement and false pretenses serve no useful purpose in the criminal law but are useless handicaps from the standpoint of the administration of criminal justice. One solution has been to combine all three in one section of the code under the name of ‘larceny,’ This has one disadvantage, however, because it frequently becomes necessary to add a modiner to make clear whether the reference is to common-law larceny or to statutory larceny. [5]

Related Terms:

adj. (1920)

1. Subject to larceny <because it cannot be carried away, real estate is not larcenable>.

n. (1803)

1. Someone who commits larceny.

adj. (18c)

1. Of, relating to, or characterized by larceny <a larcenous taking>.

2. (Of a person) contemplating or tainted with larceny; thievish <a larcenous purpose>. larcenous intent. See INTENT (1). [1]


1. A thief. [2]

Various Forms (and degrees) of Larceny:

See lucri causa.  Also see  petty larceny.  Compare robbery.   Also compare burglary; false pretenses; theft. [3]

aggravated larceny. (1831) Larceny accompanied by some aggravating factor (as when the theft is from someone 5 house or person). — aka compound larceny.

complicated larceny. See mixed larceny.

compound larceny. 1. See aggravated larceny. 2. See mixed larceny.

constructive larceny. (1827) Larceny in which the per. petrator’s felonious intent to appropriate the goods is construed from the defendant’s conduct at the time of asportation, although a felonious intent was not present before that time.

Grand Larceny – larceny of property worth more than a specified value (usually $100); the minimum differs from state to state.

larceny by a constructive trespass. (1992) Larceny that occurs when a property owner mistakenly gives another person more property than is due, and the recipient knows about the error but does not disclose it before taking the excess property with the intent of converting it to his or her own use.larceny by bailee. (1858) Larceny committed by a bailee who converts the property to personal use or to the use of a third party.

larceny by extortion. See theft by extortion under THEFT.
larceny by false pretenses.  See FALSE PRETENSES.

larceny by false promise. (1967) The crime of obtaining property by representing that a future act will be carried out when the person making the representation has no intent to personally perform or to have another person perform.  See false promise under PROMISE.

larceny by finding. (1849) The act of taking permanent possession of a possibly abandoned object under circumstances that require an attempt to discover whether the object was actually lost or unattended. — aka theft by finding; stealing by finding.

larceny by fraud and deception. See larceny by trick.

larceny by mistake. (1886) The act of taking Control of another’s property with the knowledge that the person delivering it made an error in the amount or nature of the property or in determining the identity of the recipient.

larceny by trick. (1898) Larceny in which the taker misleads the rightful possessor, by misrepresentation of fact, into giving up possession of (but not title to) the goods. -Also termed larceny by trick and deception; larceny by trick and device; larceny by fraud and deception; larceny by false pretense.  Cf. FALSE PRETENSES; cheating by false pretenses under CHEATING.

larceny from the person. (18c) Larceny in which the goods are taken directly from the person, but without violence or intimidation, the victim usu. being unaware of the taking. 0 Pickpocketing is a typical example.  This offense is similar to robbery except that violence or intimidation is not involved.  Cf. ROBBERY.

larceny of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake. See theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake under THEFT. .‘

mixed larceny. (18c) 1. Larceny accompanied by aggravation or violence to the person.  Cf. simple larceny. 2. Larceny involving a taking from a house. — aka compound larceny; complicated larceny.

petit larceny. (16c) Larceny of property worth less than an amount fixed by statute, usu. $100.  Also spelled petty larceny.  Cf. grand larceny.

simple larceny. ( 18c) Larceny unaccompanied by aggravating factors; larceny of personal goods unattended by an act of violence. Cf. mixed larceny (1). [1]

larceny after a trust. Embezzlement by bailee. Almand v State, 110 Ga 883, 36 SE 215.

larceny by bailee. An offense as defined by statute. An offense at common law only as it appears that possession was obtained by the bailee from the bailor with the felonius intent of appropriating the thing bailed to his own use and depriving the bailor thereof. 32 Am J1st Larc § 57.

larceny by finder. The taking and carrying away of the lost personal property of another with a felonious intent permanently to deprive the owner of his property and to convert it to his own, the finder’s, use. 32 Am J1st Larc § 64.

larceny by fraud. The offense of taking personal property, accomplished by fraud or stealth and with intent to deprive the owner of his property permanently. Bivens v State, 6 Okla Crim 521, 120.

larceny by general owner. The taking and carrying away of personal property by the general owner from the possession of a person holding possession under some special right or title, with the felonious intent of depriving such person of his rights, or of charging him with the value of the property. 32 Am J1st Larc § 53.

larceny by trick. The offense of taking personal property, accomplished by trick and with intent to deprive the owner of his property permanently. Commonwealth v Eichelberger, 119 Pa 254, 13 A 422.

larceny from the person. he statutory felony of stealing any article attached to the person of the owner or under his immediate personal protection.  Of course, larceny is “from the person,” in any case, in the sense that the taking is with the intent to deprive another of his property.

larceny of mislaid goods. The felonious taking and carrying away of the mislaid goods of another, without his consent, and with the felonious intent permanently to deprive the owner of his property, and to convert it to his own, the finder’s, use, which felonious intent may exist at the time of the finding, or subsequently to the linder’s taking possession. 32 Am J1st Larc § 72. [2]


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition by Jack Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[4]: 4 Stephen’s Commentaries on the Laws of England 72-73 (L. Crispin Warmington ed., 21st ed. 1950).

[5]: Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 389 (3d ed. 1982).


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