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Larceny

Everything you need to know when charged with a larceny-related offense, and how we attack the issue head on to either vindicate you or mitigate your charges

What Are the Different Larceny-related Charges In Michigan?

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused took someone else’s property;
  2. The property was taken without consent;
  3. That there was some movement of the property;
  4. The property had value; and 
  5. At the time the property was taken, the accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Special Considerations

  • It does not matter whether the defendant actually kept the property or whether the property was taken off the premises

Penalty 

  • Property stolen has a value of less than $200: Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days; a fine of not more than $500 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine.
  • The property stolen has a value of $200 or more but less than $1,000 OR the accused has one or more previous larceny charges of property of this value: Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year; a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine 
  • The property stolen has a value of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 OR the accused has one or more previous larceny charges of property of this value: Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years; a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine
  • The property stolen has a value of $20,000 or more OR the accused has Two or more previous larceny charges of any value: Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years or a fine of not more than $15,000; three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused took someone else’s property;
  2. That there was some movement of the property;
  3. The property had value; and 
  4. At the time the property was taken, the accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.
  5. If the property was given to the defendant for some limited, special, or temporary purpose but the owner had no intention of actually giving the defendant ownership of it, and the defendant then took the property in a way that the defendant knew was not included in that purpose; or
  6. If the accused got the property by using some trick or pretense

Special Considerations

  • It is larceny by trick if the complainant would not have consented if he or she had known the true nature of the transaction.
  • The intent of the victim is an important element. Did the victim intend to gift the item to the defendant only to change his or her mind? Additionally, if the larceny is alleged to be by trick, was this just a “bad deal” that the victim, in retrospect, wishes had not happened?

Penalty 

  • Property stolen has value of less than $200: misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days; a fine of not more than $500 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine.
  • The property stolen has a value of $200 or more but less than $1,000 OR the accused has one or more previous larceny charges of property of this value: Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year; a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine 
  • The property stolen has a value of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 OR the accused has one or more previous larceny charges of any value: Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years; a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine.
  • The property stolen has a value of $20,000 or more OR the accused has Two or more previous larceny charges of any value: Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years; a fine of not more than $15,000 or three times the value of the property stolen, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused took someone else’s property;
  2. The property was taken without consent;
  3. That there was some movement of the property;
  4. The accused took the property from complainant’s person or from his or her immediate presence; and 
  5. At the time the property was taken, the accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Special Considerations

  • Immediate presence means that the property was physically connected to the complainant or was right next to him or her.

Penalty 

  • Felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 10 years.

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused took someone else’s property;
  2. The property was taken without consent;
  3. That there was some movement of the property;
  4. The accused took the property from a building; and 
  5. At the time the property was taken, the accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Special Considerations

  • A person does not need to remove merchandise from a store to be guilty of the offense, and abandonment of the attempt to remove merchandise from a store is not a defense.

Penalty 

  • A more serious felony than Larceny or Larceny from a person.

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused took a wheel, tire, air bag, catalytic converter, radio, stereo, clock, telephone, computer, or electronic device;
  2. The property was taken without consent;
  3. That there was some movement of the property;
  4. The accused took the property from or on a vehicle; and 
  5. At the time the property was taken, the accused intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Special Considerations

  • To qualify the charge for the five-year felony, the prosecutor must have evidence to prove the location of the property, and the property must be of a very specific type, according to the list in the statute.
  • The dollar value of property taken is irrelevant in this form of larceny, but the exact type of property taken will be the focus for the defense.

Penalty 

  • Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That there was either a breaking OR an entering of a vehicle; and 
  2. That at the time of the breaking or entering, the accused intended to take some property and permanently deprive the owner of it.

Special Considerations

  • For a breaking, it does not matter whether anything was actually broken; however, some force must have been used.
  • For an entry, it does not matter whether the defendant got his or her entire body inside. If the defendant put any part of his or her body into the vehicle, that is enough to count as an entry.
  • It does not matter whether the defendant actually took the property

Penalty 

  • For property valued at less than $200: misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days; a fine of not more than $500 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine.
  • The value of the property is $200 or more but less than $1,000 OR the accused has one or more previous vehicle larceny charges of property of this value: Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year; a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine
  • The property stolen has a value of $1,000 or more but less than $20,000 OR the accused has one or more previous vehicle larceny charges of this value: Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 5 years; a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine
  • The property stolen has a value of $20,000 or more OR the accused has Two or more previous vehicle larceny charges of any value:  Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years; a fine of not more than $15,000 or three times the value of the property, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine.
  • If damage is caused to the vehicle: Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both, regardless of the value of the property.

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The accused either
    1. took some property that the store offered for sale;
    2. altered or switched a price tag; or
    3. tried to exchange property that had not been paid for and that belonged to the store.
  2. The accused moved the property;
  3. The accused intended to steal the property; and 
  4. That this happened either inside the store or in the immediate area around the store, while the store was open to the public.

Special Considerations

  • The statute lists three ways in which retail fraud may be committed: by theft, by price switching (traditionally a false pretense), and by attempting to obtain a refund for never-purchased or stolen property

Penalty 

  • First-degree retail fraud. Felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than five years; a fine of not more than $10,000 or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine, if the person is found guilty of any of the following:
    • While a store is open to the public, alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale, with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale, if the resulting difference in price is $1,000.00 or more.
    • While a store is open to the public, steals property of the store that is offered for sale at a price of $1,000.00 or more.
    • With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store, if the amount of money or the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained is $1,000.00 or more.
    • The person commits second-degree retail fraud and has one or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit certain serious larceny offenses.
  • Second-degree retail fraud. Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than one year; a fine of not more than $2,000 or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine, if the person is found guilty of any of the following:
    • While a store is open to the public, alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale if the resulting difference in price is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.
    • While a store is open to the public, steals property of the store that is offered for sale at a price of $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.
    • With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store if the amount of money or the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00.
    • The person commits second or third-degree retail fraud and has one or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit certain serious larceny offenses.
  • Third-degree retail fraud. Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days; a fine of not more than $500 or three times the value of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained, whichever is greater; or both imprisonment and a fine, if the person is found guilty of any of the following:
    • While a store is open to the public, alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale, with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale, if the resulting difference in price is less than $200.00.
    • While a store is open to the public, steals property of the store that is offered for sale at a price of less than $200.00.
    • With intent to defraud, obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store, if the amount of money, or the value of the property, obtained or attempted to be obtained is less than $200.00.

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the vehicle belonged to someone else;
  2. The accused took possession of the vehicle and drove or took it away;
  3. That these acts were both done without the owner’s permission; and 
  4. The accused intended to take possession of the vehicle and drive or take it away.

Special Considerations

  • It does not matter whether the defendant intended to keep the vehicle
  • Anyone who assists in taking possession of a vehicle or assists in driving or taking away a vehicle knowing that the vehicle was unlawfully possessed is also guilty of this crime if the assistance was given with the intention of helping another commit this crime.

Penalty 

  • Felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the vehicle belonged to someone else;
  2. The accused used the vehicle;
  3. That the accused did this without authority; and 
  4. The accused intended to use the vehicle, knowing that he or she did not have the authority to do so.

Special Considerations

  • Anyone who assists in using a vehicle is also guilty of this crime if he or she gave the assistance knowing that the person who was taking or using it did not have the authority to do so.

Penalty 

  • Misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years or a fine of not more than $1,500.00. However, in case of a first offense, the court may reduce the punishment to imprisonment for not more than 3 months or a fine of not more than $500.00.

To prove this charge, the prosecutor must prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That the vehicle was stolen;
  2. The accused received or transferred possession of the vehicle;
  3. That at the time the defendant received or transferred possession of the vehicle, he or she knew or had reason to believe that the vehicle was stolen; and 
  4. That this was done with the intent to receive or transfer title to the stolen vehicle.

Special Considerations

  • Subject to certain statutory exclusions, a motor vehicle is any vehicle “that is self-propelled.”
  • The statute requires active receipt or transfer of possession and not mere passive possession of the motor vehicle
  • “Title” for purposes of this portion of the statute means the general right of ownership and not the specific certificate of title.

Penalty 

  • Felony, punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00, or by imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both

What will we do as your Defense Attorney?

These are very serious charges that require an aggressive defense in which all of the facts of the case are thoroughly reviewed. We listen carefully to what our clients tell us in order to both put together a strong defense and mitigate sentencing. We do this in several ways.

First, we never take for granted that the police report is an accurate representation of the incident in question. These reports are usually very biased towards convicting the accused, and are therefore often filled with inconsistencies. We use our client’s testimony, research, private investigators, and crime scene visits to poke holes in the prosecution’s case, and ultimately, prove your innocence or argue that the facts are so that a lenient sentence is appropriate. We always visit the scene of the crime. It’s the only way to learn details showing that the police investigation was flawed or that the prosecution’s eyewitness could not have seen what he or she claims.

Larceny is a charge that provides many options to defense counsel due to the complexity of the elements of the crime. Each element contains the kernel of a defense theory that can succeed depending on the facts available from witnesses and other evidence. We will gather our own facts and know them inside and out to provide a tenacious defense. 

Many larceny cases are based on circumstantial evidence and compilations of witness statements and investigation done after the fact. Therefore, issues dealing with failure of the prosecutor’s proof (e.g., lack of specific intent to permanently deprive, actual movement or asportation of the property) along with listed defenses (e.g., claims of right (ownership)) are all fact-dependent but also very effective if the facts provide any support for the defenses. When preparing the case for hearing or trial, we review each of the elements in light of witness statements and police narratives to determine whether the prosecution’s case has any weak points.

Interpersonal relationships such as dating or family ties can often provide facts that allow for a claim of right defense.

At other times, a circumstantial case, based on the prosecution’s mere ability to place the defendant “at the wrong place at the wrong time,” allows for a factual challenge to the intent element.

If the accused is between the ages of 17 and 24 they may be eligible to qualify for a sentence under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). This Act allows the client to plead guilty, but have the offense dismissed by the court if he or she satisfies the terms set by the court. HYTA does not apply to any felony where the maximum penalty is life imprisonment (such as First Degree Arson). With that said, we always try to plea down to a non–life offense such as simple Second Degree Arson, so that HYTA is available. 

Convincing the prosecutor to reduce the charge to should always be on the table.  Mitigating factors that we look out for are things like the state of mind of the accused and whether they were acting in a desperate manner due to drugs or alcohol. Also important is the value of the property in question and whether it’s been returned. If any victims have been made whole then sentencing can be more lenient. In other words the punishment must fit the crime or we will not stand for it. 

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Email: kerrylawpllc@gmail.com

Tel: (734) 263-1193

Address: 214 S. Main St. Ste 200
                 Ann Arbor MI, 48104
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