If you have been charged with larceny, it is incredibly important that you understand each of the elements that must be present in order for you to be convicted of this crime. This is because proving that the facts in your case do not support at least one of these elements will be the most effective way to defend yourself against these charges. Below you will learn more about each of these elements and how you can use them to help form your defense strategy.
You Believed The Property Belonged To You
In order to convict you of larceny, the prosecution will need to prove you knew the property did not belong to you when you took it. If you are able to demonstrate that it was reasonable for you to believe the property was yours at the time that it was taken, the prosecution will not be able to prove this required element and therefore will not be able to secure a conviction.
Consider for a moment that your child's bike is stolen out of your garage. Several weeks later you spot a bike that looks identical to the one that was stolen. You put the bike in your trunk and take it home believing that this bike legally belongs to you. In this situation, there is no knowledgeable theft and therefore no larceny was committed.
You Were Given Permission To Possess The Property
Larceny can only occur when property is taken without the permission of its rightful owner. If you feel that the owner provided you with consent to take the property, you can challenge this element of the prosecutions case and possibly secure an acquittal.
Imagine that your neighbor says that you are able to borrow their lawnmower any time you like. Typically, you ask the neighbor before taking the lawnmower, but one day they are not home and you desperately need to cut the grass, so you simply take the equipment from their garage. When the neighbor returns home, they call the police and report the lawnmower stolen. While your decision to take the lawnmower is ethically questionable, it is not criminal because you were given prior consent from the owner to use it anytime.
You Did Not Intend To Permanently Deprive The Owner Of Their Property
The final element that the prosecution will need to prove is the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of their property. Therefore, if you are able to demonstrate that your intent when taking the property was to eventually return it, you cannot be convicted of larceny. However, it is important to note that the prosecution may still be able to charge you with a lesser offense when utilizing this defense.
While attacking this element of the prosecution's case can be difficult, it is far from impossible. For example, imagine that you took a stereo system from your neighbor's garage without their permission. When you took the system, you intended to return it the very next day. However, before you could follow through with these intentions, you were arrested and charged with larceny. In this case, your lawyer could argue that you did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of their stereo and are therefore not guilty of larceny.
When considering this defense, keep in mind that it can be incredibly difficult to convince a jury that you intended to return the stolen property, especially if you have been in possession of this property for an extended period of time.
For more information about your defense options for a larceny charge, contact a law firm such as Alvine & King LLP.