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What is Grand Larceny?

Grand larceny is stealing another person’s valuable property, exceeding a specific amount in value. This amount depends on each state law. Grand larceny is a felony in all 50 states, and penalties may include jail or prison sentencing. Grand larceny is not the same as petit larceny. Examples of grand larceny include taking a significant amount of cash, firearms, jewelry, electronics or any property valued from $250 and up.

Difference between grand larceny and theft

Grand larceny includes the wrongful taking of property, while theft is the use of assets. Petty theft, a common misdemeanor, is when the value of the items taken is below a certain amount. States differ when defining grand larceny and theft. Grand larceny brings felony charges including lengthy jail sentences; whereas theft can be a minimum of a fine.

Criminal intent

In cases of grand larceny, criminal intent is a positive factor in the theft. Criminal intent is when the person who committed the crime did it with intent to keep the stolen property as their own. This act differs from when a person borrows something with the intent to return the property.


The severity of the crime is based on the value of the stolen property.  

Proving evidence

When proving larceny, the state needs to prove it happened. There are different ways to show the crime happened.

  • Wrongful takinggaining physical control of another person’s property. An example is when a person takes another person’s wallet.
  • Moving the itemmoving the item stolen, is a key in the act of larceny. Moving an object even an inch is considered larceny.
  • Personal propertythe stolen item must be a physical object, not a service. For example, not paying for a manicure is not considered larceny, because it is a service not a physical item.
  • Personto commit larceny, one must take it from a person.
  • Without consentthe person did not give permission to take said item. For example, if someone takes another person’s laptop without permission, it is considered larceny.
  • With intentwhen taking someone else’s personal property without having the intent to ever return the item or items.
  • Defenses for grand larceny

    When charged with grand larceny, there are some possible cases to use in court to prove one did not commit the crime. A defense lawyer is needed when accused of such crimes. The defense lawyer will get the criminal’s side of the story to determine if any arguments are required in the court of law. These include, but not limited to the following

    • Intent to returnwhen the defendant can prove they intended to return the property taken. This special defense is not usual and is hard to show proof of in court.
    • The belief of ownershipwhen the defendant believes the property is theirs or can prove they are the original owner. Being under the influence during a crime or being mentally unstable, are both reasonable defenses used when the belief of ownership is the defense. A married couple who are separated by law can also use this argument.
    • Entrapmentwhen someone convinces another to commit a crime they usually would not commit, specifically a police officer. An example is when the police places valuable property somewhere and points out that it is there to take, this is entrapment
    • Consentwhen the owner of the asset gives permission to take the property. This defense must be proven.
    • Duresswhen someone else forces another person to commit grand larceny. This argument must show proof during the trial. Having a witness or video can help while using this defense in court.

    Penalties and sentencing                               

    When receiving penalties and sentencing following a grand larceny crime, judges base their decision on how the crime was committed, the criminal’s background, the value of the item or items stolen, and the specific state laws. Depending on the state in which the crime was committed, a person who commits grand larceny can face up to five years in prison. Each case is different and is not based upon another person’s criminal case. There are different degrees of grand larceny which include first-degree through fourth-degree grand larceny. The degrees of larceny rely on the value of said stolen property.

    Grand larceny is a felony-based crime punishable by years in jail. It is essential to seek legal counsel if you have been accused of this crime or a victim of theft. For more information, or for insights on what to do next, reach out to the legal Experts on JustAnswer today.

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