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Breaking Down Larceny Charges in Oakland County

Clarkston Legal Dec. 10, 2019

Breaking Down Larceny Charges in Oakland CountyMost of the Wolverine State’s theft and larceny laws are found in Section 750.356 of the Michigan Code. Property is one of the three fundamental rights which English thinker John Locke said that all people have. The other two are life and liberty. Since Locke greatly influenced the writers of the Declaration of Independence, strong larceny laws are deeply embedded in American jurisprudence.

Despite their seemingly straightforward nature, these offenses are rather difficult to prove in court. And, since an Oakland County criminal defense lawyer need only create reasonable doubt, it’s often possible to successfully resolve these cases, particularly in misdemeanor larceny cases.

Elements of the Offense

Essentially, if a person takes any tangible item which is someone else’s property, and the actor has the required intent at the moment, that person has committed larceny. The specific elements are:

  • Taking Property: Any movement from one place to another may constitute a “taking” in this context. For example, shoppers who move items to the discount area may have committed larceny. The same thing may apply if a shopper moves an item to the back of the display so no one else will buy it.

  • No Consent: This element is usually rather straightforward. Giving consent is a simple matter. Proving lack of consent in court, however, is another matter entirely, as outlined below.

  • Intent to Permanently Deprive: This issue comes up frequently with regard to borrowed property. Assume Dale borrows Hank’s tool. He intends to return it, but he never does. Dale is not guilty of larceny, but he may be guilty of another infraction.

With regard to rented property, like an Enterprise car, the law sometimes imposes a deadline. If the actor does not return the property within a certain number of days past the due date, intent to permanently deprive is presumed. An Oakland County criminal defense attorney can still disprove intent, but it is not easy to do so.

Possible Larceny Defenses

Larceny is a specific intent crime. The defendant must intend both the conduct (taking the property) and the result (permanently depriving the owner of said property). Voluntary intoxication is usually not a defense to criminal activity, but it may be a defense to specific intent crimes. Legally, intoxicated people cannot mentally think two steps ahead. They can only intend conduct.

Furthermore, larceny crimes often have proof issues. The owners must appear in court and testify that the property belonged to them and they did not give consent to move it. Typically, owners lose interest in the case after a few months. That’s especially true if they recovered the stolen property. If the owner does not testify, the prosecution falls apart like a house of cards.

Because of these defenses, and others as well, pretrial diversion is often available in larceny cases. If the defendant completes some program requirements, like attending a self-improvement class and performing community service, prosecutors dismiss the charges.

Contact an Aggressive Lawyer

Defendants in larceny cases usually have several legal options. For a confidential consultation with an experienced Oakland County criminal attorney, contact Clarkston Legal.