This non-violent crime is also defined by the West Encyclopedia of American Law (2005) as the unauthorized taking and removal of the property of another by an individual whose intention is to permanently deprive the owner of the rights of possession.
Persons found guilty of offenses like shoplifting, pocket-picking, bicycle and motor vehicle thefts, and purse –snatching among others, have committed larceny under US laws, and are punishable by fines and or imprisonment, depending on the degree of the offense and the value of the property in question.
Common Law, according to Black’s Dictionary (1999), has been expanded in the United States to include embezzlement and false pretence, so that all three would come under the statutory act of theft. According to Perkins and Boyce (1982), distinctions between these three criminal acts serve no purpose in criminal law, but they each can serve as handicaps from the standpoint of the administration of criminal justice.
Perkins and Boyce (1982) went further to argue that there is one disadvantage in the current approach, and this is reflected when modifiers have to be used to provide clarity between common larceny and statutory larceny.
There are several types of larceny, and Black’s Dictionary (1999), listed some of them as, aggravated, compound, constructive, larceny by trick, larceny by extortion, larceny by bailee, larceny of property lost or mislaid, mixed larceny, simple larceny grand larceny and petit larceny.
However, based on financial considerations, the classification that best describes the two degrees of larceny is grand larceny and petty larceny, and in the case of the United States, there are considerable variations in the application and even the names used to prosecute accused across states.
On a general basis grand larceny is a felony and petty larceny a misdemeanor, but what may be the latter in some states, may be classified as grand larceny in others. Further. to compound the issues, some states used the terms grand theft and petty theft to describe both crimes, and as legal counsels always have to familiarize themselves with the statutes that are operational in their states before bringing any case before the courts.
The larceny of property valuing more than $100 is classified as grand larceny, and such act is regarded as a capital offence which can be punishable by the forfeiture of goods as well as whipping under the English law, but not death, according to Perkins and Boyce (1982).
However, modern United States statutes has retained the same classification in most states, but different penalties and value set as dividing line has been applied, according to Perkins and Boyce (1982).
In some states across the United States, grand larceny is not applicable unless the value of the property the accused stole exceeds $300 or even $400 in some cases, but property loss in general as a result of this felony has been considerable, with a 2004 report citing losses amounting to $16.1 b.
The US law of larceny and related offenses; which was adopted throughout its early history was changed according West Encyclopedia of American Law (2005), to embrace a broad theft statute, had allowed the state like North Dakota to incorporate as crime of theft, the following, larceny, stealing, purloining, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretence, extortions, fraudulent conversions, receiving stolen property, swindling and the misappropriation of public funds.
This categorization is set to favor prosecutors, according to West Encyclopedia of American Law (2005), in that when they bring cases to courts they onus on them is to show intent and the true value of the properties concerned. In other instances embezzlements; which are discrete elements of grand larceny, these prosecutors are often challenged by defendants to submit proof in order for them not to walk free.
Grand Larceny has different degrees, and this manifest clearly in the state of Iowa where the theft of property exceeding $10,000 will result in a first degree or class C felony, and is punishable by prison terms not exceeding 10 years and fines ranging from a minimum of $500 to a maximum that does not exceed the value of the property stolen, according to West Encyclopedia of American Law (1992).
The crime in the United States base on a FBI 2004 seem to trending dangerously in the direction of theft from motor vehicles and theft of accessories relating to motor vehicles, with the former accounting for 25.3 % and the latter 10.8% respectively. The reasoning behind this trend could be the value society places on automobile as well as the likelihood of offenders converting the stolen property to cash in quicker time than other items taken from buildings or via shoplifting which accounted for 12.4% and 14.5 % respectively in the same report for the period.
Petty Larceny, according to Perkins and Boyce (1982) is the larceny of property whose value does not exceed $100 and the accompanying punishment is less severe than that of grand larceny. According to West Encyclopedia of American Law (1992), the punishment for petty larceny falls into the fifth degree category and can include a fine not exceeding $100 as well as the performance of community services specified by the presiding judge.
In the state of Vermont, petty larceny is treated differently from a financial perspective, in that property stolen up to the value of $900, is treated as a fifth degree offense, and is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine not exceeding $1000, according to the state 1965 amendment No.195 §10 (Michies’ Legal Resources, 2012).
Offenders caught committing petty larceny due have recourse in some states. In the state of Kansas for example, deferment of judgment can be obtained if the accused person have never committed a serious crime before, have never participated in a previous deferment program, is prepared to enter a guilty plea and pay a non-refundable fee of $125 on application.
Larceny, despite its different forms, basically has two degrees which are grand larceny and petty larceny, but the classification in financial terms varies across states, and in one particular instance petty larceny for properties valuing up to $900 exists, while others place dividing lines between $400 down to $100.
The names and the types of other offences also varies, with some calling the offences grand theft and petty theft, while other include embezzlement, purloining, fraudulent conversions, swindling and shoplifting among others as part of the criminal act, in an effort to prevent offenders escaping by arguing that prosecutors lacked proof in their presentations.
Prosecutors in the United States handling grand and petty larceny are often forced as a result of different legal interpretation and applications, to conduct proper investigations as it relates to their specific states before bring their cases before the courts.
Finally, the trend toward grand and petty larceny from auto and auto accessories is cause for concern nationally, based on statistical evidence and the financial losses that had accrued in 2004, where the both offences accounted for 36.1 % of all felonies of this nature in the United States and property losses have risen to $16.1b, according to an FBI report.
Black’s Dictionary (1992), Larceny 7th edition West Group St. Paul MN pp.885-886
Michies Legal Resources (2012), The Vermont Statutes Online Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure Chapter 57: Larceny and Embezzlement www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/sections.cfm?Title=13&Chapter=057
Perkins, R.M. & Boyce, R.N., (1982), Criminal Law 3rd edition p.389 Net Industries (2012). Types of Crimes-Larceny-Theft 2nd edition
West Encyclopedia of American Law (2005), Larceny Thompson-Gale Farmington MI pp.205-207