Larceny: A Theft Crime
Larceny is a theft crime. It is a crime against property as opposed to a crime against a person. Because we value human life more than we do property, crimes against people are generally more serious than crimes against property. Such is the case in Oklahoma. Larceny is a less serious crime than robbery.
Under Oklahoman law, larceny is defined as the taking of personal property through fraud or stealth, and with intent to deprive. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1701. Stealth in the theft is the hallmark of larceny. Oklahoma divides larceny into petit (the French word for “small”) and grand (the French work for “large”). Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1703. The value of the property stolen is the major difference between petit and grand larceny.
In an attempt to alleviate its overcrowded prisons, the Oklahoma legislature recently passed new laws that change the level at which larceny becomes a felony. Prior to the enactment of the new law, the amount differentiating grand larceny (a felony) from petit larceny (a misdemeanor) was $500. The new threshold is $1,000. Increasing this threshold allows more theft crimes to be sentenced as misdemeanors. The difference in sentencing between petit and grand larceny is significant. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1704.
For instance, if you stole a computer or iPhone under the old statute, you might have been convicted of grand larceny, a felony. Under the new legislation, you would be convicted of petit larceny, a misdemeanor.
The penalty for grand larceny is as many as five years in jail. And you could be fined as much as $5,000. If convicted of petit larceny, you could face jail time as much as one year in the county jail, or nights and weekends, at the court’s discretion. In addition, you could be fined as much as $1,000. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1705.
Courts have wide latitude and discretion in the sentencing of this crime. It is critical that you have an experienced Wagoner criminal defense attorney represent you. Your local attorney will know not only the law as it applies to your case, but will also know the local court system and judges you will be facing. Your attorney will know what arguments the court will find persuasive and what arguments it will not find persuasive.
It is important to note that if you find property and have enough information to locate or attempt to locate the owner, you must try to do so. If you find lost property under circumstances which gives you sufficient knowledge or means to determine the true owner and fail to make an effort to restore that property to that owner – keeping it for yourself – you could be found guilty of larceny. Okla. Stat. tit. 21 § 1702.
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