Larceny and theft often are used to refer to the same thing in many circles, but there are some major differences regarding the nature of the crimes involved.
Once the amount of the stolen item is over $250, it goes from a misdemeanor to a felony. At that point, it then is a grand larceny or grand theft charge. The difference between grand larceny and grand theft is as follows:
- Grand larceny involves the person taking the property of another and moving it from one location to another, with the intent to steal ownership of that item.
- Grand theft refers generally to the taking of any property over $250 in value. Under grand theft, there also can be burglaries, robberies and larcenies.
Grand larceny is a type of theft; all grand larcenies are theft, but not all thefts are larcenies.
Grand larceny theft can include a wide variety of different examples of theft, including purse-snatching, pickpocketing, and vehicle theft. Under federal guidelines, it is defined as “unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property” from another’s possession.
Do not confuse grand theft and petty theft, two categories of theft that describe crimes above and below a certain monetary value in various jurisdictions. In practice, most acts of theft by taking are larceny theft. Larceny theft becomes a federal matter most frequently when individuals steal property from the federal government.
Grand Larceny Theft Laws
Federal grand larceny theft laws are not the same as larceny theft laws that pertain to the states. Although virtually all states recognize larceny theft, federal grand larceny theft laws are focused on the protection of public property from theft. The United States federal government recognizes more than one hundred different types of theft, not all of which are recognized by the individual states.
Federal Grand Larceny Statistics
- There were more than six million larcenies and thefts around the US in 2010.
- The total number of larcenies and thefts dropped 2.4 percent from 2009 to 2010.
- Larcenies and thefts were 68% of all property crimes in 2010.
Grand Larceny Theft Crimes & Charges
Federal grand larceny theft includes many different kinds of theft, of which the following is just an overview:
- Theft by trick, deception, or fraud, including con games, scams, insider trading, fraudulent credit card products or programs, and other “schemes” of a similar kind, which involve misrepresentation.
- Theft by taking, known legally as “asportation.” In theft by taking, property is completely moved from the place where it was obtained. During defense in cases of asportation, common sense is used to determine whether an item was “completely moved” or not.
Under most definitions of larceny, the item stolen must be personal property, which can include real property as well as anything tangible, documents, services, information, intellectual property, or contraband items.
In order to prove a case of grand larceny at either the state or federal level, prosecutors must prove that the stolen item was in the possession of another without the consent of the owner. This can be more difficult than it seems, as, in the case of some property, it can be difficult for even the original owner to positively identify the item.
The last significant aspect of grand larceny is that the alleged thief must have had the intent to convert the item permanently to his or her use or to permanently deprive the original owner of its use. The risk of permanent loss can cause individuals to be charged with larceny even in cases where they intended to return the property.
Grand larceny is distinct from embezzlement in that the alleged thief had no lawful access to the property.
Examples of Grand Larceny
An example of grand larceny is stealing a car from a parking lot, or stealing a large amount of jewelry or cash. Meanwhile, grand theft would be stealing jewelry by breaking into a home, or stealing the car with the person still inside of it.
Grand Larceny Theft Punishment
Grand larceny theft imprisonment and fines both depend upon the value of the item stolen as well as other aggravating factors. Most state laws recognize the difference between larceny theft at a misdemeanor level and larceny theft that rises to the level of a felony. The specific level at which this happens is defined by states.
Grand larceny is a felony level charge that can put you in prison from 12-90 months. Generally, grand larceny does not involve a physical conflict, so there could be a lesser punishment when compared with grand theft.
Grand Larceny Theft Sentencing Guidelines
Federal grand larceny theft sentencing guidelines use a point system in which six points is the “Base Offense Level.” Larceny theft losses that exceed $5,000 receive additional points. More points are added based on a selection of more than eighteen aggravating factors. Imprisonment can range from a few months to twenty years or more, particularly if the larceny theft involved other crimes such as breaking and entering that aggravate the larceny charge.
Grand Larceny Theft Statute of Limitations
The federal code provides that no person can be tried or punished for any noncapital offense unless they are indicted or information is instituted within five years of the date the offense was committed. (18 USC 3282) Generally speaking, larceny theft is a noncapital crime.
Grand Larceny Theft Cases
Some of the biggest include:
- In 2013, Halfmoon, New York town supervisor Mindy Wormuth was arraigned by federal authorities on a variety of counts, including grand larceny, in connection with allegedly receiving $7,500 in exchange for using her influence to support local legislation. (Fox News Center 23)
- Also in 2013, the finance director of a Connecticut town was indicted on counts including first-degree larceny after accusations emerged that he had stolen more than $2 million dollars from the town over the course of five years of official duties. (Litchfield County Times)
Larceny Theft Quick Links & References
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Definition and Overview of Larceny Theft Laws
- Overview of Hybrid Crimes, Including the 100+ Different Kinds of Larceny Theft
- When Larceny Becomes Federal Larceny and How It Can Be Defended in Court
- Bureau of Justice Statistics Information on Larceny Theft and Criminal Victimization
- More on the Definition and Prosecution of Larceny and Its History as a Crime
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Explanation of Larceny Theft
Grand Larceny Laws By State
Grand larceny laws are intended to discourage people from stealing valuables from other people, but the laws vary significantly by each state:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
This state differentiates between grand theft and petty theft. Grand theft or grand larceny is more serious, and involves property or money that is worth more than $950.
There also are exceptions to the $950 rule, when the stolen property involves livestock, farm goods or aquaculture products.
State statutes stipulate that person has committed grand theft or grand larceny in the first degree if the goods stolen are worth more than $20,000, but less than $100,000. However, it also is the same crime if the property that was stolen belongs to law enforcement and is worth $300 or more.
Both larceny and theft in this state vary depending upon the value of the property stolen. If the property is worth up to $500, it is a Class A misdemeanor. If the property is worth between $10,000 and $100,000, it is a class 1 felony. It is a class 3 felony if the property is worth from $500 to $10,000.
In this state, theft is a form of larceny that involves moving someone else’s property from one place to another. It is larceny if, for example, you steal someone’s car when they are not in it, but it would be theft if they were still in the car. If property is worth less than $250, it is petty theft. If the items are worth more than $250, it is grand theft or felony theft.
The law in Michigan refers to the crime of theft as larceny, which is when you steal property that belongs to someone else. It is misdemeanor larceny in this state if the property is worth less than $200. If you steal store property (shoplifting) worth $200 or more up to $1000, it is retail fraud in the second degree. Felony theft is when the property is worth $1000 or more but less than $20,000, or if the property is a vehicle. This is a felony.
Grand larceny in New York is broken up into four different degrees depending on the value of the money or property stolen. For example, grand larceny in the first degree is when the person steals property that is worth more than $1 million. This state also defines aggravated grand larceny, which is stealing money from an automatic teller machine.
There are no distinctions in state law now between petit and grand larceny. All larceny is now a Class H felony. It generally involves goods that are worth more than $1000.
Theft in Ohio is broken up in the statute into several degrees. The lowest level of theft involving items less than $1000 is called petty theft and is a first degree misdemeanor. The term grand theft is used in Ohio law when the property stolen is worth more than $7500 but less than $150,000. This is a fourth degree felony.
This state also uses the term theft instead of larceny to describe when someone’s property is taken against their will or without their knowledge. If the amount stolen is less than $50, it is a summary offense, which is less serious than a misdemeanor. If the amount stolen is worth more than $2000, it is a second degree theft felony, and note that stealing a firearm is a first degree felony.
The term larceny is not used in Texas law; all of these crimes are referred to as types of theft. It is a third degree felony, for example, to steal property or money worth $20,000 but less than $100,000. It is a second degree felony if the property is worth $100,000 or more but less than $250,000. Theft over $250,000 is a first degree felony.