Larceny is the legal term for theft that is used under many state laws. Under Oklahoma law, larceny is defined as taking personal property through stealth or fraud with the intent to deprive another person (Oklahoma Statute Ann. 21-1701). This means that theft has been committed any time the offender wrongfully takes the property of another person and does not intend to return it.
Larceny is different from robbery, which includes a threat or use of force. It also is different from burglary, which involves illegally entering a home in order to steal something.
There have been recent changes to Oklahoma law that raised the threshold for property crimes to be charged as a felony to $1000. The new law HB 2751 applies to larceny, shoplifting, and receiving or concealing stolen property. Grand larceny is now defined as the unlawful taking of property that is over $1000. While larceny and theft is still a very serious crime in this state, the new law will probably reduce the number of cases that will be charged as felonies. The law went into effect on Nov. 1, 2016.
Oklahoma Grand Larceny Conviction
To be convicted on a grand larceny charge in Oklahoma, the state prosecutor must prove the following elements:
- That you took someone else’s property and carried it away, no matter for how long you actually held it
- It was someone else’s personal property and you did not have permission to take it
- You took it from another person who was in legal possession of it
- The property was valued at more than $500 and you took it by stealth or fraud with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it
If you can show that your actions did not meet any of the following, the prosecution cannot convict you. Remember that the burden of proof is on the state prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the above are true.
Oklahoma Laws and Penalties
Oklahoma categorizes larceny offenses based upon what the property stolen is worth. The first is petit larceny or theft. This is the lowest level theft offense in the state and may be referred to as petty theft. It is charged when the property that was stolen is worth less than $1000. Petty larceny in this state can be punished by a fine up to $500 and a six month jail sentence.
Grand larceny is defined as the property being worth more than $1000, or the property of any value is taken from the person directly. The statutes in Oklahoma have several punishment and classifications for theft that involves specific types of property, such as cars, livestock, farm equipment and other domestic animals.
Grand larceny in Oklahoma is charged as a felony and is punishable by a year in county jail if the property is worth $500 or less. If the property is worth more than $500, you can receive a prison sentence of one to five years. The fine can be up to $5000 and you must pay restitution as well if the victim incurred losses due to the offense.
If grand larceny occurs in a home, the punishment can be up to eight years in prison. If the grand larceny was from another person and happened at night, you can get up to 10 years in state prison.
In addition to facing criminal penalties for theft, if you are convicted for shoplifting, you could be liable to the business owner for the price of the merchandise, or a percentage of the reduced value of what was taken; the attorney fees and court costs for the business owner; punitive damages; or community service.
Grand Larceny Enhancement Penalties
Grand larceny and general theft statutes in this state have different punishments based upon your criminal history. If you steal merchandise that is worth $500 or less and you do not have prior convictions, you can be punished with up to 30 days in jail. The fine can be up to $500. But if you have a prior conviction, you can receive a minimum of 30 days in jail and up to one year, with a fine up to $1000. If you have two or more prior convictions, no matter of the value of the property, you will get at least two years in prison and up to five years.
Legal Defenses to Grand Larceny Charges in Oklahoma
Some of the best defenses to grand larceny charges are the following:
- Ownership: If you thought that the property belonged to you, then you cannot have committed grand larceny or theft. This defense can work even if the belief is unreasonable or false. You will have the burden of proving that you had an honest belief the property was yours, but this can be challenging to back up.
- Entrapment: This is when someone induces an innocent person to commit a crime that they would not have committed otherwise. In these cases, a police officer may convince you to steal something that you would not have. To make this defense work, you must not have had a prior inclination to commit the crime and must have only done it due to the actions of the entrapping party.
- Consent: If the owner of the property consented to you taking it, this cannot be larceny. This situation can happen many ways. For example, the owner of the property could ask you to fake a theft to file a bogus insurance claim. The owner consented to you taking the property, so this is not larceny; you could be charged with insurance fraud, however.
- Duress: You can argue you were forced to commit the crime due to threats of force or blackmail.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for a theft case in Oklahoma can range from three to seven years if it is felony. If it is a misdemeanor, the statute of limitations is three years.
Oklahoma Grand Larceny Cases
- Church Security Guard Charged for Stealing Collection Plate Money – A security guard at a south Oklahoma City church has been charged with attempted grand larceny after the leaders of the ministry set up a sting that allegedly caught him taking church collection plate money. Money in four envelopes was placed in the collection plate that had GPS trackers. The money was worth $300.
- Burglar Climbs Roof of Rehab Center to Steal Car – The Oklahoma City Police Department reported that Clayton Wood was arrested in early January 2018 for burglary of the first degree, grand larceny of an automobile and attempting to elude an officer.
- ICE Agents Arrest 86 People Throughout Oklahoma and Texas – Officials state that dozens of people were arrested by ICE over the last few days, with 16 found in Oklahoma. Among the federal charges were larceny, obstructing justice, smuggling and receiving stolen property.
- Oklahoma Criminal Case Basics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://statelaws.findlaw.com/oklahoma-law/your-oklahoma-city-criminal-case-the-basics.html