What is Petit Larceny?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Petit larceny, also called petty larceny, is a type of theft that involves a small amount of money or item of low value. To be considered to be this type of crime, a theft must involve property that has been removed from the possession of its owner intentionally. The standard monetary amount of stolen goods or money that qualifies as petty larceny varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Jail time is one possible consequence for committing petty larceny.
Jail time is one possible consequence for committing petty larceny.

In many places, theft is a crime under which there are many categories. For example, removing a light fixture from someone’s property may not be considered larceny in some places because it involves an attached fixture of a building rather than personal property. In some cases, this type of theft might actually be referred to as vandalism. On the other hand, stealing another person’s wallet is considered larceny in many places.

Shoplifting is typically considered petit larceny.
Shoplifting is typically considered petit larceny.

An individual who commits petit larceny takes possession of another person’s personal property and carries it away. This definition does not fit people who borrow items, even without permission. If a person intends to return an item later, the removal is typically not considered larceny. Likewise, removing property because of a misunderstanding isn’t usually considered larceny. If, for example, a person removes another party’s compact disc player because he has a similar model and thinks it is his, this is not considered larceny.

Laws vary widely from country to country. Even within one country, laws concerning theft may vary widely from region to region. As such, the amount of money or monetary value set for petit larceny charges differs depending on the jurisdiction in which the crime occurred. In some places, the threshold for petit larceny may be $250 US Dollars (USD), while other places may charge people with petty larceny if they’ve stolen less than $500 USD. These amounts are only examples, as a jurisdiction can set any amount it sees fit as the threshold for petit larceny charges.

Often, petit larceny charges carrier lighter penalties for convicted thieves. Since the amount of money or property that has been stolen is typically low, some jurisdictions give convicted individuals less than a month of jail time. In fact, many first-time criminals receive probation for petty larceny charges, only serving significant jail time after repeat offenses. Lighter sentencing doesn’t mean this crime is taken lightly, however. In many places, petty larceny convictions create a criminal record that can affect a person’s ability to obtain certain jobs.

Juvenile offenders convicted of petit larceny may be required to attend counseling sessions.
Juvenile offenders convicted of petit larceny may be required to attend counseling sessions.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


BrickBack- The Felony DUI or felony DWI as well as grand theft larceny convictions with the exception of the 3rd degree larceny cannot be expunged from your record.

These charges remain in one’s record because they are considered a public safely issue and there needs to be a record in case there are subsequent charges.

Even a misdemeanor DUI cannot be expunged which is something that people need to think about if they drink a drive.

Besides the obvious dangers of drinking and driving, a future employer can view this criminal report and decide not to hire you because of the poor judgment demonstrated in your DUI conviction.


Petit larceny misdemeanor is usually a violation of a shoplifting law.

Depending on the monetary value of the property stolen you can receive misdemeanor charges or felony charges.

The grand larceny penalty varies according to your individual state and again the amount of the property stolen. For example, in New York, for the theft of items valued from about $300 to $5,000 is considered a third degree grand larceny and the offense can be expunged.

If the items stolen value $5,001 to $15,000 then it is considered a second degree larceny offense, while anything larger than a $15,000 theft is first degree grand theft larceny.

Post your comments
Forgot password?