Larceny Sentencing and Penalties

Larceny, or theft, is a common crime with severe consequences. This article summarizes larceny, associated penalties, sentencing, and how a criminal defense lawyer can assist in understanding this complex legal territory.


Larceny and Theft Crimes Explained

Larceny is a criminal offense. It involves unlawfully taking someone's personal property without their consent. This crime covers many situations, from stealing a candy bar to embezzling funds. The penalties for theft depend on various factors. For example, the property's value and the type of larceny affect the penalties.

Larceny Categories

Many jurisdictions categorize larceny into two main types:

The main distinguishing factor between the two is the value of the stolen property.

Larceny is a broad category. It encompasses various crimes involving the unlawful taking of someone else's property. Some crimes considered larceny include:

  • Shoplifting: Stealing items from a store without paying for them
  • Embezzlement: Misappropriating funds or property entrusted to you by an employer or organization
  • Theft of Personal Property: Illegally taking someone's belongings without their consent
  • Petty (Petit) Larceny: Committing minor theft, typically involving low-value items
  • Grand Larceny: Committing more significant theft, typically involving high-value items
  • Auto Theft: Stealing someone's vehicle
  • Pickpocketing: Secretly stealing from someone's pockets or bags. This is sometimes referred to "larceny from the person."
  • Robbery: Using force or intimidation to steal from someone
  • Carjacking: Using force or intimidation to steal a car from a driver or passenger of the car
  • Burglary: Illegally entering a building intending to commit theft or another crime
  • Fraud: Deceptively obtaining money or property through false pretenses

These crimes may have different names and specific legal definitions in various jurisdictions. Still, they generally fall under larceny or theft.

It is important to note that both robbery and carjacking involve theft. However, these charges have the added element(s) of force, threat, or intimidation. Because robbery and carjacking involve a victim who was threatened or even hurt during the crime, most states classify these charges as crimes against persons as opposed to larceny. These charges are much more serious than larceny. 

A robbery or carjacking victim may have been injured or even killed during a robbery or carjacking. For that reason, in some states, a person convicted of robbery or carjacking could receive up to life in prison.

Misdemeanor Larceny

Misdemeanor larceny involves the theft of personal property with a low value. It is sometimes known as petit larceny. In many legal systems, petit larceny carries less severe penalties than grand larceny. It's essential to understand the potential consequences of a misdemeanor larceny conviction.

Penalties for Misdemeanor Larceny

The penalties associated with misdemeanor larceny can vary greatly. They generally encompass the following:

  • Fines: A common repercussion of misdemeanor larceny is the imposition of fines. The fine amount can differ based on the value of the stolen property and local regulations. Fines serve as a financial penalty to deter future theft.
  • Community Service: Courts may order those convicted of misdemeanor larceny to perform community service. This helps the offender give back to the community and is a form of restitution.
  • Probation: In some cases, a court may place an individual on probation. People on probation must adhere to specific conditions set by the court. For example, a probation officer may regularly check in with them. Probation may also restrict them from certain activities.
  • Jail Time: Misdemeanor larceny typically leads to less severe sentences than felony larceny. But, there is still the possibility of serving some time in jail. Jail sentences in such situations are typically less than one year.

Specific penalties may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the case's facts. Local laws and sentencing guidelines play a significant role in determining the penalties.

Felony Larceny

On the other hand, grand larceny is a felony charge. Generally, it applies to cases where the stolen property has a higher value. Penalties for felony larceny can be much more severe than those for petit larceny. They may include lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines. The specific consequences vary from one jurisdiction to another. Therefore, consider consulting local laws or a criminal defense attorney for precise information.

Larceny Sentencing Factors

Several factors can influence sentencing for a larceny conviction:

  • Criminal History: A prior criminal record can lead to harsher penalties. First-time offenders may receive lighter sentences than repeat offenders.
  • Value of the Property: The stolen property's value often determines the severity of the charge and potential penalties.
  • Type of Larceny: Different jurisdictions categorize larceny based on several factors. These may include the type of theft, such as shoplifting, embezzlement, or theft of property.
  • State Laws: Larceny laws can vary from state to state. For example, sentencing guidelines may differ between New York and North Carolina.

Possible Sentences

The potential sentences for larceny convictions range from fines, probation, and community service for misdemeanor larceny to prison sentences for felony convictions. The severity of the sentence is determined by the specific circumstances of the case. The judge also has discretion in sentencing.

Get Legal Help With Larceny Charges

Laws related to larceny, penalties, and criminal law are complex. They also differ from place to place. For personalized help and legal representation, consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney. An experienced attorney can provide you with important advice regarding the following:

  • Basic information about criminal law and jail sentences
  • Whether a theft qualifies as first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree larceny
  • Specific defenses to an alleged larceny offense or theft charge

If you're facing larceny charges, don't hesitate to get support from a criminal defense lawyer. Knowing larceny penalties and sentencing is your first step in making informed choices to secure your future.

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