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What Are the Different Types of Grand Larceny?

A theft must meet a certain value-threshold to be considered grand larceny.
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  • Written By: Terry Masters
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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In certain jurisdictions, grand larceny has been codified by type of theft, including distinguishing thefts by the value of the stolen property, by the kind of property stolen, and by the way it was stolen. Since larceny is a crime defined by statute, it can also be distinguished by scope, depending upon the jurisdiction. For example, the U.S. has grand larceny statutes at the federal and state levels designed to cover theft in different sorts of circumstances.

Larceny is the theft of personal property from another with the intent to deprive the person of the property permanently. The crime is typically separated into petty larceny and grand larceny, distinguished by a jurisdiction establishing a threshold value of the property taken that will bump the offense up from petty to grand. Petty larceny is often a misdemeanor offense, and grand is most often a felony. The crime of grand larceny is usually parsed to fit punishments to gradients of circumstances relating to the value of property stolen, the kind of property stolen, the way in which the property was stolen, and the underlying environment in which the theft occurred.

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The main way jurisdictions separate grand larceny by type is to distinguish the severity of the theft by the value of the property taken. In many states in the U.S., for example, the severity of the offense is governed by defining the degrees, or level, of the available punishment. Grand larceny can typically be charged in the first to the fourth degree, and first degree larceny warrants the most substantial punishment.

In some jurisdictions, there are different types of grand larceny charges that depend on the type of property stolen. New York, for example, has special statutory provisions for the theft of credit or debit cards, vehicles, and firearms. In each instance, the statute provides special punishments that raise the severity of the offense, regardless of the value of the property stolen.

The way the property was stolen can also distinguish the charge. New York, for example, has a pickpocket statute that makes theft from the person of another a special offense, and another statute that makes special provisions for larceny by extortion or blackmail. This differentiation provides a type of strict liability for thefts conducted in these ways that takes them outside of the normal categorization that assigns degree based on property value.

In the U.S., larceny can also be charged at the federal level. Federal grand larceny is typically concerned with corporate and government theft as well as theft in instances that affect interstate commerce, such as theft over the Internet or through the mail. The charges at this level often have the same sorts of differentiation as can be found at the state level.

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