Larceny

This crime consists of a taking, and carrying away, of tangible personal property, of another, by trespass, with intent to permanently deprive. The property must be personal property, it must be tangible, and it must have some value. The property has to be taken from someone with possession. If the taker has custody of the item, as where the item has been borrowed and then never returned, then it is not larceny. On the other hand, if the property is lost or mislaid, it could be larceny because it is regarded as constructively in the possession of the owner. Abandoned property has no owner and cannot be the subject of larceny. Furthermore, the taker must actually obtain control of the property as destruction or movement is not sufficient, (as where the taker knocks a watch out of the owner’s hand, for example). The property must also be moved / carried away by the taker or his agent, even if it is carried only a short distance. Remember that consent destroys the larceny unless the consent is induced by misrepresentation and then this is “larceny by trick”.

There are also special situations where the property is lost or mis-delivered. If the property is lost, a finder commits larceny if they have reason to believe that they can find out the identify of the owner and at the moment of possession, they have the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. Likewise with mis-delivered property, the recipient must at the time of the mis-delivery, realize that a mistake is being made and still accept the property with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of the property.

Finally, there is the “continuing trespass” situation, which occurs for example, where property is knowingly taken without permission but with intent to return it. Later the taker changes his mind and decides to keep the item permanently. The larceny occurs when the taker forms the intent to steal the property. Since the initial possession was wrongful, the trespass continued until the intent to steal was formed.

Michigan codifies the crime of larceny at MCL 750.356a.

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