An average person may view stealing as clear-cut wrongdoing. The law, however, does not view it that way. There are various types of stealing offenses, and grand larceny is one of them. This offense takes into consideration the value of the property that illegally is taken and the intent of the perpetrator.
Grand larceny generally is defined as the theft of property exceeding a certain value. Property can refer to many things including cash, jewelry, or electronics. If a person steals multiple items during an act of theft, the value usually will be assessed collectively instead of individually.
This means that although the items may be cheap, together they can constitute larceny. A good example of this is the theft of a compact disk (CD) case. If there are 25 CDs inside, the value of each and the value of the case they were in are added together, making it very possible to meet the threshold.
The value that constitutes grand larceny can vary from one state to another. Some states do not have this type of larceny offense. Those that do enforce larceny laws generally have a lower category known as petty larceny, which applies to theft of property below the value of other larceny charges. For example, if a state sets $500 US Dollars (USD) as the amount that constitutes grand larceny, then theft of property valued at $498 USD would be petty larceny.
Normally, the value of items that are stolen is not based on the purchase value. It is instead based on the fair-market value which determines how much something was worth when it was taken. In many cases, items depreciate. A CD that is purchased at $20 USD normally is not worth that amount six months later. In some cases, however, the value may appreciate above the purchase price, such as with art.
A person normally cannot be convicted of grand larceny if he did not intend to keep the stolen items. This means that even if a person takes an item without permission that meets the value to constitute this crime, he will be acquitted if he can prove he intended to return it at some future date. A good example of this is an employee of a lawn service who takes equipment to do personal jobs.
Grand larceny is derived from the English common law system. In previous centuries, the crime was considered much more severe than it currently is. Today, however, it generally is considered to be a felony. This means that conviction can result in a prison sentence, but that does not always happen.