Definition of Grand Larceny in U.S. Law
In United States law, grand larceny is a felony charge for stealing goods from an individual or business. Grand larceny can be applied to a number of crimes and circumstances, but usually only non-violent or passive thefts.
Some states refer to grand larceny as grand theft and use the term “aggravated” to distinguish between violent and non-violent crimes.
Most states have an additional petty larceny or petty theft charge, which is used for instances where the cash value of the stolen goods is low.
Depending on the amount stolen, the manner of the crime, and the offender’s criminal record, a grand larceny charge may carry up to 20 years in jail.
Grand Larceny Explained
Grand larceny is a criminal offense in many states. It is the theft of goods and/or services. Grand larceny is a felony in most states, and what separates it from other theft charges is the value of goods stolen.
Each state sets its own dollar amount for what qualifies as grand larceny. In some states, this amount could be $2000, whereas, in others, it can be as low as $750.
Charges in Other States
Other states may not have a grand larceny charge at all and, instead, use charges for petty or grand theft. Despite the word larceny being used interchangeably with the word theft, there is a distinct difference between the two.
The Difference Between Larceny and Theft
In the United States, larceny is the theft of goods, typically by non-violent or passive means. Theft, on the other hand, denotes more serious circumstances or perhaps the use of violence.
A person convicted of larceny may have shoplifted goods from a store, stolen from a neighbor, or embezzled cash from a business. Using a larceny charge in most states implies that this is a lesser charge.
If someone steals property by threatening an individual or using a deadly weapon, this may result in a theft or aggravated theft charge. States may further differentiate the crime by using robbery, grand theft auto, or burglary charges for specific circumstances.
What Does the Term Grand Mean?
The word grand is used when the value of goods stolen is over a certain dollar amount. If it is under this amount as determined by the state’s code of laws, then the charge is labeled as petty.
In South Carolina, theft under $2,000 is referred to as petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor offense. Theft over $2,000 qualifies as grand larceny and is a felony offense.
Similarly, states like Florida use the terms grand theft and petty theft. Additional terms like aggravated may be added to the charge depending on the circumstances.
How Much Is Required for a Grand Larceny Charge?
The amount required for a grand larceny charge varies from state to state. New York has a higher minimum than most other states, with grand larceny starting at $5,000 but not exceeding $1,000,000.
However, amounts less than $5,000 but over one thousand dollars may instead be grand larceny in the second, third, or fourth degree.
California is another state with more unique laws regarding grand larceny. Grand larceny is known as a “wobbler” law or charge in California.
This means it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the judge’s discretion.
Is Grand Larceny a Felony?
This offense is considered a felony in practically every state with a grand larceny charge. The use of the term grand is used to differentiate this larceny charge from the lesser misdemeanor version, petty larceny.
Most shoplifting offenses are classified as misdemeanors, which can be punished by a short sentence in a detention center (usually up to 30 days), a fine for the number of goods stolen, or community service.
These charges can typically be expunged off records by taking classes or attending community service. Grand larceny, on the other hand, often comes with longer sentences of greater than or equal to a year.
How Long Is a Sentence for Grand Larceny?
Because grand larceny is a felony charge, it can carry a sentence of over a year. However, because of the nonviolent nature of most grand larceny charges, the sentence may be shorter than other theft or robbery charges. Each state sets its own sentencing guidelines.
In Alabama, a grand larceny charge can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in jail. However, if this charge is in the third degree and the individual’s first offense, they may receive no jail time, although the offense will still be counted as a felony.
Connecticut has a wider depth of charges for larceny or theft. Larceny can be anywhere from the 1st to the 6th degree. The 4th, 5th, and 6th degrees are all classified as misdemeanors. The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degrees are felonies, with 1st-degree larceny carrying a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
What Is Grand Theft Auto?
Grand theft auto is a specific charge applied to larceny cases involving the theft of a vehicle. Cars are typically higher than $1,000 in value, so the theft of a vehicle is typically a felony offense and not a misdemeanor.
In addition, carjacking is often a violent crime or done using a violent weapon, and these factors may result in an elevated charge.
Because of the unique circumstances involved with the theft of a car, some states choose to distinguish these crimes from the grand theft auto charge.
Larceny and Theft Offenses in the US
What is grand larceny? Understanding the grand larceny charge can be difficult because each state has its own terminology and sentencing guidelines for these types of charges. Depending on where you are, larceny and theft may be the same or completely different.
Some larceny offenses are misdemeanors, whereas others are felonies. In almost every state, however, a grand larceny charge implies that it is a felony offense punishable by over a year in prison.