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What constitutes the federal crime of larceny?

Larceny is a relatively simple crime. Under federal law, the crime of larceny encompasses the taking, withholding or obtaining of an item of personal property, something else of value or money from either the person who owns the money or item or from another person. Larceny can happen by any means under federal law.

Significantly, to qualify as the federal crime of larceny, an alleged Louisiana perpetrator must either act with the intent to defraud or deprive another person of the property permanently, to appropriate it for him or herself or to allow another to use the property. In contrast, the crime of wrongful appropriation involves an alleged perpetrator's intent to only temporarily deprive or defraud another of the use of an asset.

According to the FBI, the taking of an asset, whether a bicycle or cash from a person's pocket, will qualify as larceny as long as it is not done by fraud or by force and violence. The crimes of forgery, embezzlement and check fraud do not constitute larceny under federal law.

Larceny is a prevalent crime. The FBI reports that in 2010, thefts via larceny accounted for approximately 68 percent of all property crimes, and the average value of property taken during these crimes was almost $1,000 per incident. A substantial percentage, more than 26 percent, of larceny crimes occur in the form of thefts from motor vehicles. Pickpocketing and purse snatching account for less than one percent of larceny crimes.

As mentioned, an important element of the crime of larceny is intent. Often, prosecutors and defendants have different interpretations of the intent behind an act. If you have been charged with larceny, it is important to consider what defense options are available to you. This could help you avoid harsh penalties by taking steps to reduce the charges or dismiss them altogether.

Source: fbi.gov, "Larceny - theft," accessed June 3, 2016

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