Let us begin by understanding the difference between theft and larceny. It is important to understand that these words cannot be directly changed in legal terms. In general, all larceny is theft, but not all theft can be considered larceny. Theft is more of an umbrella term that covers a wider range of stealing. Larceny refers more to the illegal and permanent removal of someone’s personal property. The different charges for theft, robbery, burglary, and larceny are dependent upon the specifications of the crime. It is difficult to give one, the ironclad meaning of each term since the application and usage will charge form one state to another. The ramifications of your arrest are going to relate directly to the specifications. In general, the more items were stolen, and their larger monetary amount will result in more serious charges.
It is important to realize that prosecutors may be able to combine the total value of stolen items for a harsher charge. Many times, judges will impose criminal restitution meaning that the value of the stolen items will have to be given back to the victim. These sanctions can also be imposed for shoplifting crimes in retail locations. This number is based on their traditional retail value and may accompany mandatory jail time as part of the punishment. This restitution is not forgiven in bankruptcy and failure to pay this back can result in more charges. There are many possible defenses that can be used against a larceny charge in Utah. This is because there are many specifications that must be met for the charge to be considered larceny. For example, the theft must be intended as permanent, so if you planed on returning the stolen items it may not be considered larceny. If you have taken an item that belongs to your spouse, it may be considered misappropriation of marital property instead. There may also be questions in terms of consent and entrapment.
Types Of Theft Charges In Utah.
There are several different types of theft aside from the commonly known shoplifting and robbery charges. Theft charges in Utah may include a number of crimes such as:
• Robbery (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-301.) – This crime is charged in cases where an individual allegedly and intentionally takes or attempts the take the property of another person against their will. This is considered a 2nd degree felony charge.
• Aggravated Robbery (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-302.) – Situations where a robbery includes the use or threat of a dangerous weapon, causes another person serious injury, or steals a car are considered 1st degree felony offenses.
• Wrongful Appropriation (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-404.5.) – A person who obtains or exercises control of another person’s property on a temporary basis, without express consent, can be guilty of a misdemeanor or 3rd degree felony offense.
• Theft by Deception (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-405.) – Use of deception to acquire another person’s property is considered a criminal offense. However, this does not include cases where an individual exaggerates the worth or value of their goods to the public.
• Theft by Extortion (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-406.) – Extortion occurs when a person threatens to cause violence, imprisonment, involve the other person in a crime, reveal confidential information, or commit any other act in order to illegally obtain the other person’s property that causes harm.
• Theft of Lost or Mistakenly Delivered Property (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-407.) – Even the theft of property that is lost, mislaid, or mistakenly delivered constitutes a criminal offense.
• Receiving Stolen Property (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-408.) – If an individual receives property that they know or believe to be stolen, but continues ownership or distribution of the item, they can be guilty of a criminal offense. This also applies to pawnbrokers and second hand businesses.
• Theft of Services (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-409.) – Even though services aren’t tangible, they can still be used and intentionally unpaid for. This can happen through coercion, force, or any other means used to avoid payment.
• Retail Theft (Utah Criminal Code 76-6-602.) – Individuals who steal items from retail stores, alters labels, or under rings an item with the intent to defraud can be found guilty of this offense.
Theft in Utah occurs whenever a person “obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with a purpose to deprive him thereof.” These are the basic elements every prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict a person of this crime. Although this is the general law regarding, there are laws in Utah prohibiting specific types of stealing. These specific types include the following:
• Wrongful appropriation
• Theft of motor vehicle fuel
• Theft by deception
• Extortion (blackmail)
• Theft of lost, mislaid, or mistakenly delivered property
• Theft of services
• Theft of utility or cable television services
• Theft of rental vehicle
• Retail Theft
• Receiving stolen property
There is even a law that prohibits a person from releasing a fur-bearing animal raised for commercial purposes without permission of the owner. This would mean an animal activist could be charged if he tried releasing mink from a mink farm. This type of stealing is a third degree felony and punishable by up to 5 years in prison. Utah laws do not take lightly this crime. The level of criminal offense for stealing in Utah varies from a class B misdemeanor, such as in the case of a first time shoplifting offense, to a second degree felony. In determining what level of offense to charge someone, a prosecutor is governed by factors given by Utah law. The most serious offense, a second degree felony, is that level because the property stolen was valued at or more than $5,000, the property was a firearm or motor vehicle, the property is stolen from the person or another or the theft was committed by someone using a dangerous weapon. The level of offense is primarily based upon the value of the property taken but other factors exist. We can explain all the factors used to determine whether a theft is a felony or a misdemeanor. Theft in Utah can also be enhanced to a higher level of offense if a person was convicted previously of theft in a 10 year period or 5 year period depending on the circumstances of the case.
Penalties for Larceny
Larceny refers to a type of theft crime in which a person takes the property of another person, without their consent, and carries it away with the intention of permanently depriving the legal owner of that property. Under criminal law, property is broadly defined and can be categorized as movable or immovable. Some examples of movable property include cars and jewelry, while some examples of immovable property include real property, such as land and things attached to it. Also included in the definition of property are documents, such as stock certificates, and personal services, such as repairs made to your vehicle or restaurant service. Importantly, every state has its own set of laws and statutes addressing larceny. However, every state will typically recognize larceny as the unauthorized taking and carrying away of the tangible, personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive that person of their property. Larceny is generally classified as a misdemeanor charge, meaning that it is punishable by no more than one year of jail time and a capped fine. However, larceny may be elevated to a felony charge in some jurisdictions if the property stolen was valued above a certain amount. In cases where the value of the stolen property is high, the act of larceny may be considered grand theft.
The penalties for theft in general depend on the circumstances surrounding the theft, including:
• The type of property taken;
• The value of the stolen property;
• Whether a weapon or force was used to take the property; and
• Whether the victim was injured during the theft.
For example, shoplifting from a department store would carry very different penalties than an armed robbery of the same store. Shoplifting would likely be considered a misdemeanor, while the latter may be considered a felony. As previously mentioned, larceny as a theft crime is generally considered to be a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are considered to be less serious crimes than felony charges, and are punishable by criminal fines and/or a jail sentence of less than one year in a county jail. Importantly, misdemeanor sentences may not be served in a state prison facility, as those facilities are generally reserved for felony crimes. Certain types of larceny may be considered even less serious, and result in only a citation or a fine. As mentioned above, larceny may lead to more serious legal penalties, such as becoming a felony charge or higher class of misdemeanor, under specific circumstances. Felony charges can include a prison sentence of over one year, and/or increased criminal fines. In regards to larceny specifically, the penalties can increase in proportion to the amount of property stolen. As with misdemeanor theft charges, some jurisdictions may create specific categories for felony larceny. One example of a jurisdiction creating specific categories for felony larceny may include the breakdown of the crime into different degrees, such as:
• Larceny in the third degree for theft up to $5,000;
• Larceny in the second degree for theft between $5,000-$50,000; and
• Larceny in the first degree for theft above $50,000.
Aggravating factors are circumstances related to the crime in question that somehow make the crime itself worse. In terms of larceny, more serious legal penalties may result if the following aggravating factors are present:
• The act was a repeat offense;
• The act was committed to further a more serious crime; or
• The act was committed with the use of a deadly weapon.
The defendant may also have some alternative sentencing options available to them, based on the specifics of their case. This could include completing a community service program as opposed to serving jail time or paying fees. Alternative sentencing takes a more rehabilitative approach. It allows the defendant to avoid some of the harsher, traditional penalties, and is commonly reserved for first time offenders, petty offenses, and juvenile offenders. Every type of theft has specific elements that the prosecution must prove in order for the defendant to be found guilty. With larceny, the prosecution must prove that the intent to commit the crime, or intended for the victim to be injured, was present. If they cannot, the defendant may be able to successfully argue that the prosecution has failed to satisfy their burden.
Other defenses to larceny charges may include:
• Intoxication, if the defendant can prove that they were intoxicated without their consent;
• Duress, if the defendant can prove that they would face bodily harm or death from someone else if they did not commit the crime; or
• Innocence, if there is a witness willing to testify of the defendant’s behalf. For example, a witness stating that they saw the defendant grocery shopping at the time the theft took place would give the defendant both an alibi and a good legal defense.
In addition to the above listed defenses, the true owner defense may also be utilized if the defendant believed that they were the true owner of the property that they took. An example of this would be accidentally taking someone else’s laptop because it looked like your own. As previously mentioned, the intent to carry away and permanently deprive someone of their property must be present in order to convict someone of committing larceny. Therefore, if a defendant only took a laptop away because they thought it was their property, they would lack the intent to permanently deprive someone of their property. Another example of a lack of intent to permanently deprive would be if the defendant was charged with the theft of a cell phone, but only borrowed the phone to make a call because they misplaced their own and fully intended to return the phone to its original owner. Although larceny is one of the more common criminal charges, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Not only will an experienced criminal defense attorney ensure that you understand your state’s specific laws regarding larceny and its classes, they can also help determine if any defenses are available to your case.
What To Know If You Have Been Accused Of Theft
Being accused of theft is a serious allegation. Whether you have been accused of a felony theft or a misdemeanor theft, it is important to realize that this crime can affect your future employment. Working with a lawyer to minimize the effect that the theft allegations or convictions will have on your record is highly advisable. If you have been convicted of theft in the past, your current allegation can become a felony strictly because of your prior offenses. It is important that you do all that you can to keep theft off of your record.
There are many different classifications of theft in Utah. Some of the variations of theft are;
• Theft by deception
• Theft of services
• Theft of services
• Theft by extortion
• Theft of lost or mislaid property
• Retail theft
• Vehicle theft
• Theft of a firearm
• Theft of utility or cable television services
• Theft of fuel
• Theft from a person
• Theft of a rental vehicle
Theft Defense Lawyer
When you need legal help to defend against theft or larceny charges, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506