Larceny or theft?

Stealing is against the law in Michigan and across the country, but such an act is divided into numerous legal categories that can be difficult to unravel: larceny, petty theft, grand theft and more particular crimes like grand theft auto. Understanding the distinctions can be difficult -- and they vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction -- but some basic principles tend to apply across the board.

Larceny is a legal category that has a long history, but it is no longer recognized as distinct from ordinary theft in some jurisdictions. Where it does still exist, it is generally defined as the taking and then carrying away of another's physical property with the intent of depriving that person permanently of said property. The distinction between larceny and theft can be blurry, but a rule of thumb is that theft encompasses stealing intellectual or monetary property rather than a strictly physical object, as in larceny.

Petty theft is the stealing of possessions that have fairly minimal worth. The upper limit varies between jurisdictions, but it is most commonly set at $1,000. Grand theft is the crime of stealing possessions in excess of the petty limit, and it is punished as a felony. More specific categories of theft may be defined in certain jurisdictions, such as the stealing of an automobile, legally known as grand theft auto. These categories generally carry heavier penalties.

An individual who has been taken into custody on theft charges may benefit from immediately obtaining the services of a criminal defense attorney. Common defenses against charges of theft or larceny include arguing that the defendant did not realize the object in question belonged to someone else or intended only to borrow it, but an attorney may use yet another approach to seek an acquittal.

Source: Findlaw, " Is Larceny Different from Theft?", December 15, 2014