Prosecution of Larceny Theft and Possible Defenses -California Penal Code 484 PC
Prosecution of Larceny Theft – California Penal Code 484 PC
Under California Penal Code 484 PC, any person who feloniously steals, takes, carries, leads or drives away the personal property of another is guilty of larceny theft by either misdemeanor of felony larceny. In order to convict you of this offense, the prosecution must prove the following:
- You took possession of property owned by someone else;
- You took the property without the owner’s consent;
- When you took the property, you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or remove it from the owner’s possession for so extended a period of time that the owner would be deprived of a major portion of the value or enjoyment of the property; AND
- You moved the property, even a small distance, and kept it for any period of time, however brief.
1. You took possession of property
In order to be convicted of larceny theft, the prosecution must prove that you took possession of property owned by someone else. Possession can be either actual or constructive. You take actual possession of property if you carry the property away or it is found on your person. Constructive possession exists if the property is found in an area over which you exercise control. Therefore if the stolen property is found in your bedroom, you can be convicted of theft by larceny because you have control over the premises and the objects contained therein.
2. Without the owner’s consent
You must have taken the property without the owner’s consent in order to be convicted of larceny theft. Valid consent is only obtained if the victim acted freely and voluntarily while knowing the nature of his consent. If you obtained property with the victim’s permission, you cannot be convicted of larceny theft.
3. With the intent to permanently deprive
The prosecution must also prove that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property or long enough to deny him a major portion of its value or enjoyment. This intent must be formed before or during the time in which you took possession of the property. If you took the property but never had the intent to keep it or convert it to your own use, you cannot be convicted of this offense.
4. Movement of the property (asportation)
The property need only to have been moved a short distance in order for you to be convicted of larceny theft. You don’t need to actually remove the property from the premises as long as you moved it from the place where it was kept by the owner. Even if you took the property but later returned it to its original location, you can still be convicted of this offense.
Possible Defenses to Larceny Theft – California Penal Code 484 PC
If you are being prosecuted for grand of petty larceny theft under California Penal Code 484, a skilled criminal defense attorney can raise several defense on your behalf. These may include:
Defense #1: Lack of intent to permanently deprive
The prosecution must prove that you had intent to deprive the owner of property, even temporarily, in order to find you guilty of larceny theft. However, your attorney can argue that you did not have the specific intent to deprive the owner of the property or convert it to your own use.
For example: As you walk through your neighborhood, you notice your neighbor’s lawnmower is sitting out on the front lawn. You are aware that your neighbors have recently left for vacation and will be away for several days. You are concerned that someone might steal it while your neighbors are away. You try to put the lawnmower in your neighbor’s backyard or garage, but the gate, garage, and all doors are locked. Thus, you take the lawnmower and place it in your garage, intending to give the lawnmower back once your neighbors return. However, a police officer sees you pushing the lawnmower away from your neighbor’s property and stops to question you. You explain your situation, but the officer doesn’t buy it. The officer arrests you for larceny theft.
In this situation, even though you temporarily deprived the owner of the property’s use, you did not do so for a substantial period as to deny him a major portion of its value or enjoyment. Also, you did not intend to deprive the owner of the property; you meant to return it and only took it in good faith.
Defense #2: Claim of right
A claim of right to the property is a defense to larceny theft. You obtain property under a claim of right if you believe in good faith that you have a right to the specific property and openly take it. You can hold a good faith belief even if the belief is mistaken or unreasonable. In deciding whether or not you had such a good faith belief, the court will consider all of the facts known to you at the time you obtained the property. Therefore if you honestly believed that you were the true owner of the property and took possession of it, your attorney can argue that you had a claim of right to the property and cannot be convicted of theft by larceny.
Call Wallin and Klarich Today If You Are Being Charged With Larceny Theft
If you or a loved one is being charged with larceny theft in Southern California, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich experienced in helping clients accused of committing larceny offenses. With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, Victorville, West Covina, Los Angeles and San Diego, your attorneys at Wallin & Klarich are ready to provide you with immediate assistance.
Call us today at (877) 466-5245. We will be there when you call.