Larceny Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Larceny, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Larceny?

(n) Larceny is the misappropriation of the goods or assets of another person with an intention to use them as his own. Larceny is a crime punishable and are classified as grand and petty Larceny based on the value of the property so misappropriated.

History and Meaning of Larceny

Larceny has been a common law crime and is one of the oldest forms of theft. The term originates from the French word 'larcin' which means theft. The common law defined larceny as the taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intention to permanently deprive the owner of the property. In other words, larceny occurs when a person takes possession of someone else's property without their consent and with the intention to steal it.

In modern times, larceny has been incorporated into statutory law, but the essence and elements of the crime remain the same. Larceny is considered a serious offense and is punishable by law.

Examples of Larceny

  1. A man enters a store and steals a phone from the display case without the owner's consent. This constitutes larceny.

  2. An employee uses their company credit card to purchase personal items without the employer's consent. This constitutes larceny.

  3. A woman takes a wallet that doesn't belong to her from a public bench. This constitutes larceny.

Legal Terms Similar to Larceny

  1. Robbery - taking personal property from another person by force or intimidation.

  2. Burglary - unlawfully breaking into and entering a building with the intent to commit a felony, often larceny.

  3. Embezzlement - similar to larceny, but instead of taking another's property without their consent, the property is intentionally misappropriated by a person entrusted with it.