Old comedies like “Larceny Inc.” with Edward G. Robinson and “Small Time Crooks” with Woody Allen often treat thieves as bumbling crooks who steal on the sly. And in some part, those portraits are accurate. Oklahoma grand larceny is theft involving deceit or stealth.
Larceny in Oklahoma is defined as the taking of another’s personal property by fraud or stealth, with the intent to deprive. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1701
Its hallmark is deceit or stealth. Meaning that theft — when done overtly or in an aggressive manner — is usually charged as a different (and often more serious) crime.
Grand vs. Petit Larceny
Larceny comes in two types or levels: petit (French for “small”) and grand (French for “large”). Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1703
These two levels are marked by the value of the property stolen. In fact, the word “larceny” comes from the French word “larcin.”
Oklahoma grand larceny is defined by statute as either the taking of property worth more than $1,000 or the taking of property from the person of another regardless of the value of the property taken. All other larceny is petit larceny. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1704
That means a pickpocket taking property from another — such as a wallet or a cell phone — could be convicted of a felony.
Elements of Oklahoma Grand Larceny
In order to secure a conviction, the prosecutor must prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a heavy burden and often difficult to prove.
Here are the elements of Oklahoma grand larceny:
- the taking and
- carrying away of
- personal property
- belonging to another
- valued at more than $500 or
- from the person of another
- by fraud or stealth, and
- with the intent to deprive permanently.
(Note: The amount in the Jury Instructions is still $500. This reflects an older statutory limit for grand larceny and has not yet been updated. The current statutory amount of $1,000 is the applicable amount.)
If any of these elements is not proven, there is no conviction. Thus, any fact or evidence that disproves any of these elements is a viable defense. If the property actually belongs to you, but you are taking it back, there is no larceny. If you have no intent to take it away — you merely want to examine it and return it — there is no larceny.
The intent to deprive is usually interpreted by courts as the intent to deprive permanently. Borrowing or taking an item with the intent to return it later is not sufficient to meet this element.
Even though the statute doesn’t mention “carrying away,” case law has added that as a distinct element. Even a slight amount of transportation is necessary for a conviction. Thus, if you pull something from someone’s pocket, look at it, and then return it, there is no larceny.
The person from whom you have taken the item need not be the legal owner of the property. Even if another person owns it, if you disturb the holder’s right to possession, that will be sufficient to meet the element of “belonging to another.”
Finding Lost Property
In Oklahoma, you could be convicted of larceny by keeping lost property. If you find property that gives you sufficient knowledge or means to determine the true owner and you keep that property instead of making a reasonable attempt to find the owner, that is sufficient for a conviction. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1702
Other Types of Larceny
Larceny can occur in a number of settings and circumstances:
- larceny from a building Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1723
- stealing or removing copper Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1727
- larceny of pets or other animals Okla. Stat. tit. 21 §§ 1716-1719.2
- larceny from a dwelling Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1707
The penalty for grand larceny is up to five years in prison if the property stolen is worth $1,000 or more. Remember, the crime is a felony in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
If the value of the property is less than $1,000, the crime is punishable by incarceration in the county jail for up to a year or one or more nights or weekends at the discretion of the court. In addition, if convicted, you must pay both a fine of up to $5,000 and restitution to the victim. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1705
That bumbling crime in those old comedies doesn’t look so funny when you are facing the possibility of prison. An experienced Stillwater criminal defense lawyer can help you protect your freedom. Hire an attorney today.
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