There are different types of crimes. If you have been charged with a crime, don’t argue with the police officers arresting you. Tell them that you want to speak to your South Salt Lake Utah criminal defense lawyer.
Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. To secure a conviction for larceny, the government must prove the voluntary act (trespassory taking and carrying away) and the mental state (intent to permanently deprive). The government must also demonstrate that the property taken has value and was owned by a person other than the defendant. In other words, there must be specific evidence that the defendant intended to steal the property from the lawful owner, as opposed to borrowing it or taking it based upon a mistaken belief that the property is abandoned. To be convicted of larceny, the taking and carrying away must be trespassory, that is, without the owner’s consent. This means that the property must belong to someone other than the defendant, whether or not it is in the actual possession of the owner at the time of the taking. Whether property is truly abandoned or simply lost or misplaced is a matter to be determined by examining the circumstances of finding the property. If there is some indication of ownership either on the property or that could be reasonably inferred from the surrounding circumstances, then it is likely that the property has not been abandoned and the true owner can be located. In that case, a person who finds the property is required under most statutes to make a reasonable effort to restore the property to its rightful owner.
Intent to Permanently Deprive
The defendant, at the time of the trespassory taking and carrying away, must intend to permanently deprive the true owner of the property. This intent is also referred to as the intent to steal. Proving this intent typically involves examining the defendant’s conduct as it relates to the trespassory taking and carrying away of the property. If the defendant treats the property in a manner that is inconsistent with the true owner’s continued enjoyment and possession of the property, then that voluntary act provides strong circumstantial evidence of the defendant’s intent to permanently deprive the owner of continued possession and use of the property. The major issue that arises in these cases involves determining when the defendant’s voluntary act of taking and carrying away has progressed enough so that the intent to permanently deprive is sufficiently manifested.
Occasionally, when caught with the goods, shoplifters will immediately offer to pay for the items and may, in fact, have the financial ability to do so. However, once the intent to steal has been demonstrated (i.e., by concealing the property and/or exhausting the last opportunity to pay), a subsequent offer to pay cannot negate the intent. This means that once there is a voluntary act (a taking and carrying away of the property) combined with the mental state (intent to steal), the social harm sought to be avoided by the crime of larceny is complete. A subsequent offer to pay is insufficient to remove this social harm, but it may serve to mitigate the defendant’s punishment after conviction.
In some instances, a person may take property without the owner’s consent, but with the intent to use it temporarily and thereafter restore it to the owner. If at the time of taking, there is no intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, then it would appear that the necessary intent for larceny is not present. However, the intent must be examined in the context of the intended “temporary” use of the property. If the person taking the property intends to treat it in a manner that will make its restoration to its lawful owner highly unlikely, then there may be sufficient circumstantial evidence of an intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property at the time of the taking. Such circumstances might include, for example, taking property without the owner’s consent and intentionally exposing it to dangerous or destructive circumstances.
Finally, a person may take property from another under the mistaken belief that he or she is entitled to take the property. For example, a person may take property with the mistaken belief that the owner has consented to the taking. In these situations, if the mistake by the taker is reasonable, it will negate any criminal intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. The taking is simply an honest mistake. All of the surrounding circumstances must be evaluated, however, to determine if it was reasonable for the taker to have such beliefs with respect to the treatment of the property. If the beliefs are unreasonable, then the intent to steal may be established based upon the taker’s treatment of the property.
Evaluating whether the defendant has taken a substantial step toward the commission of a crime requires examining the defendant’s voluntary actions in furtherance of the criminal activity. The substantial step requirement ensures that the defendant is exhibiting a level of dangerousness to society sufficient to warrant punishment. Because the elements of each crime differ, the conduct required for a “substantial step” will change according to the elements of the crime. There are, however, several questions the judge or jury might consider when determining whether the defendant has taken a substantial step. One consideration is whether the defendant was within “dangerous proximity” of completing the crime. Dangerous proximity can mean close in time, geography or preparation to committing the crime. Another consideration might be the level of apprehension created by the criminal conduct. Theoretically, if the crime is of a very serious nature and involves a high level of danger, then there is a greater likelihood that the defendant will stop and reconsider before completing his criminal activities.
Accessory or Aiding and Abetting Liability
A person can be liable for the criminal conduct of another if he provides assistance before or during the commission of the crime. This type of criminal liability is referred to as accessory or aiding and abetting liability. If a person intends that a crime be committed and does something to encourage, promote or facilitate the commission of the crime, then according to the criminal law he is just as guilty as the person who actually commits the offense. A person who provides assistance to another is considered dangerous because, although he may not actually commit the offense, he has the necessary criminal intent and engages in some conduct that furthers the criminal activity. The criminal law punishes those who provide encouragement or assistance to others engaged in criminal conduct in an attempt to thwart the progress of criminal activity that depends upon the encouragement or assistance of others.
An accessory may be criminally liable for providing physical or verbal assistance or encouragement to another and may be liable without regard to whether he is present during the commission of the offense.
Knowledge of the Criminal Conduct
Before a person may be criminally responsible for the conduct of another person, he must have knowledge of the anticipated criminal conduct. Knowledge is usually based upon information provided by the person committing the offense. Knowledge of criminal activity may also be derived from being present at the scene of the crime. However, mere presence at the scene is not enough to impose criminal liability for the conduct of another. There must also be proof that the accessory had knowledge of the criminal conduct.
Before or During the Commission of the Crime
Liability for aiding and abetting the criminal conduct of another arises only if the assistance is knowingly provided before or during the commission of the crime. Thus, for every crime, liability for aiding and abetting will rest upon an initial determination as to when the crime is complete. Any assistance provided after the completion of the crime will be considered assistance after the fact and evaluated under a different criminal law standard.
Aiding and Abetting versus Conspiracy
Based upon the definition of conspiracy discussed earlier in this chapter, it would seem that anyone who provides assistance to another before or during the commission of a crime would also be considered a co-conspirator. Indeed, that is often the case. It is possible, however, to encourage or assist in the criminal conduct of another without a prior conspiratorial agreement.
Accessory After The Fact
If the criminal conduct is complete, any assistance provided at that point is considered assistance after the fact, and the person providing assistance is guilty as an accessory after the fact. Often, accessories after the fact provide assistance in concealing the crime or the fruits of the crime and intentionally hinder law enforcement efforts to investigate criminal conduct. Accessories after the fact, if convicted, can be held guilty of separate misdemeanor offenses and are not liable for the conduct of the person who actually committed the criminal offense. The actions of an accessory after the fact are not considered as serious or dangerous as the person who commits or facilitates the commission of the crime. Instead, an accessory after the fact is considered a threat to efficient and effective law enforcement. By taking affirmative steps to conceal crimes from authorities or hinder official criminal investigations, accessories after the fact are essentially committing a crime against the public authority.
To be liable as an accessory after the fact, the defendant must have knowledge of the completed criminal activity and do something to conceal or hinder law enforcement investigation of the crime. Mere knowledge of completed criminal activities is not enough because there is no legal obligation to report criminal conduct. But when a person has knowledge of criminal activities and takes affirmative steps to conceal them, then that person has committed a crime against the public by interfering with the efficient and effective investigation of criminal conduct.
One notable exception to accessory after the fact liability arises when family members are involved. Some statutes exempt family members from accessory after the fact liability. This exemption is due to the difficulty associated with proving that family members acted with the necessary knowledge and intent to conceal criminal activity as opposed to simply engaging in innocent family activities. For example, the parents of a teenager who returns to the family home after committing an armed robbery would probably not be considered accessories after the fact to the teen’s crime. Presumably, the parents are simply engaging in the innocent activity of allowing their son to stay in the family home rather than acting with the intent to conceal his criminal activities. In any event, there would be serious difficulties with attempting to establish the parents’ knowledge and criminal intent, given the nature of normal family interactions.
Conspiracy To Kill
Conspiracy is largely a crime of the mind, a meeting of the minds to commit a criminal act. At common law, the crime of conspiracy required only that there be an agreement to commit an offense, coupled with the intent that the offense be committed. However, because of the inherent difficulties with proving criminal intent when the crime is primarily mental in substance, modem statutes have added the requirement of an overt act.
The Crime Of Covering Up
A person may be responsible for the criminal conduct of another if he or she assists, encourages or facilitates that conduct with the intent that the crime be committed. As discussed in the section on aiding and abetting liability, the assistance or encouragement must occur prior to or at the time the crime is committed. Furthermore, the person providing assistance need not be present during the commission of the offense, as long as he or she has provided some assistance or encouragement with the intent that the crime be committed. Occasionally, however, some individuals provide assistance after the crime has been completed. Although such assistance is a criminal offense, it is considered quite different from assistance provided before or during the offense.
Your Right To Remain Silent
When the police arrest you for a crime, remain silent. Do not say thing to them even if they question you. Ask them that you be allowed to speak to your South Salt Lake Utah criminal defense lawyer. The lawyer will ensure that you don’t get convicted for a crime you never committed.
South Salt Lake City Utah Criminal Defense Attorney Free Consultation
When you need legal help to defend against criminal charges in Utah against you, please call Ascent Law LLC (801) 676-5506 for your Free Consultation. We can help with Misdemeanor Crimes. Felony Crimes. Assault. Battery. Theft Crimes. Grand Larceny. Drug Crimes. Sex Crimes. And More. We want to help you.
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