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Petit Larceny- Defining the term

Petit Larceny- Defining the term



Petit larceny is the most typical theft accusation. Larceny is defined as the unlawful theft of another’s property without that person’s permission and permanently robbing the person of custody of the property. Basic stealing is the most prevalent kind of petit theft. However, various methods can be used, and other criminal offenses may occur in specific circumstances. The particular crimes of burglary, robbery, fraud, theft, and related offenses have replaced robbery as a criminal offense in England, Wales, Ireland, and Northern Ireland. However, stealing personal property without the owner’s permission is still illegal in several areas of the United States, Jersey, and New South Wales, Australia.


Defining Petit Larceny

Petit larceny is defined as anyone who:

  1. Steals money or other items worth less than $5 from another person’s personality or
  2. Except as stated in paragraph (iii) of 18.2-95, a person who commits simple theft of goods and chattels valued at less than $1,000 while not from the person of another person is considered to have committed petit larceny, which carries a Class 1 misdemeanor sentence.

Petit larceny is also known as petty theft. Petty theft, or robbery in proper terms, is the most basic form of stealing. Stealing someone’s property without that person’s permission is referred to as petty theft. If one can establish that the robber took the item permanently, it is deemed theft and a crime against the owner’s right of possession. Petty theft or robbery occurs when someone takes an unlocked bike or wallet left on a restaurant table. Shoplifting from stores is frequently referred to as petty theft or robbery. However, petty theft might be violent—the object might be taken by force or deceit. Even if it includes money, fraud is still considered a separate offense, such as embezzlement or forgery.

Types of theft:

  • Theft from the Person: Petit larceny is the legal term for stealing from someone’s person less than $5; grand larceny is the legal term for stealing from someone’s person more than $5. The most frequent instance of this crime is pickpocketing.
  • Petit larceny based on Value: Under Virginia Code Section 18.2-96, this offense is charged and is essentially just a theft crime for anything valued at $1,000 or less. Shoplifting is this offense’s most prevalent variant.

When does Petit Larceny occur?

Petit Larceny Defense Lawyer. Arrested and charged with petit larceny

Shoplifting is the most frequent type of petit larceny. When someone removes things from a store, the owner will charge this fee (unless the items are more expensive than $1,000). Even if a person does not leave the business with the things, they may still be charged with this felony. In New York State, people have been accused of this offense for swiping mail from a mailbox, removing a landlord’s security cameras from a rental property, and using a doctored MetroCard at subway turnstiles. When someone borrows another person’s property and refuses to return it, such as when a friend gives you a mobile phone and you take off, that person may also be charged with petit larceny.

What is the most common type of theft?

Shoplifting is the most common type of theft. Police may use grand theft and robbery laws. However, the law in other jurisdictions defines this as a distinct and independent offense. Categorizing the crime into several degrees may determine the severity of a certain occurrence. This decision is often made based on the worth of the objects that the robber took, which also determines whether the crime will be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Many wrongly think that shoplifting only occurs when someone steals retail property without paying for it. This offense is frequently defined in a much wider sense. Actions like removing or modifying price tags and packing items inside the packaging of cheaper goods may be considered stealing.

Examples of petit larceny in a sentence

Some examples of petit larceny or petty theft are:

  • A student in Wilson leaves her guitar unattended in the classroom. When she comes back, the instrument is gone.
  • Someone who puts anything in their pocket or bag risk being accused of stealing it because they were hiding it.
  • One of the employees commutes to work daily on his bicycle. On the bike rack behind Massey Business Center, he leaves it unattended. The bike is gone when he returns at the end of the day.
  • The student forgets his wallet in a gym locker that is not secured. The wallet is gone when he comes back.

Statistics for petit larceny

  • Nationwide, there were reportedly 5,086,096 thefts and robberies in 2019. Compared to the projection for 2018, 2.8% fewer thefts were committed as acts of thievery. Compared to the 2015 estimate, it fell 11.1 percent compared to the 2010 estimate, which fell 18.0 percent.
  • Estimated larceny-theft rates in 2019 were 1,549.5 per 100,000 people. Estimated larceny theft rates dropped by 3.3 percent from 2018 to 2019 and 22.7 percent from 2010 to 2019.
  • In 2019, an estimated 73.4 percent of property crimes were larceny thefts.
  • Each larceny-theft case resulted in an average loss of goods worth $1,162. The failure of victims nationwide was projected to be $5.9 billion when the average value is applied to the expected number of larceny thefts. 
  • In 2019, 27.1 percent of all larceny thefts were from motor vehicles.

How to do the filing process for petit larceny?

Understanding the Differences Between Misdemeanors and Felonies

When a person becomes the victim of petit larceny, they can file a police complaint stating their personal information and complete details about the stolen things. 

A class one misdemeanor, petit larceny carries a maximum penalty of $2500 and 12 months in prison. Short jail sentences are relatively common, especially for minor or first-offense cases. However, judges seldom condemn someone for several months or more behind bars. Judges and prosecutors take the accused’s criminal history into account. A person’s sentence might be significantly harsher if they had previously been convicted of stealing. When someone commits a second violation, a judge may sentence them to a week or more in jail instead of merely a fine for the first offense. Prior convictions are highly significant since a person can be charged with grand theft, which has a potential sentence of up to 10 years in prison if they have been convicted of petit larceny twice previously. Judges may also consider earlier convictions for other felonies, though they are often given less weight than prior stealing charges. Although the legal system makes an effort to keep punishments roughly uniform across the Commonwealth, there are some differences across jurisdictions. When a person is found guilty of petit larceny, judges in some counties may frequently sentence them to at least one day in jail, while, in other counties, simple fines are more typical. Having a lawyer who regularly represents clients in a certain court is crucial.


Taking someone else’s property when its worth falls below a certain threshold (such as $500) is often referred to as petty larceny (also known as petty theft). Petty theft is taking someone else’s possessions without that person’s consent. It is considered theft and a crime against the owner’s control rights if the police prove that the robber stole the object permanently. When someone takes an unlocked bike or a wallet left on a restaurant table, it is known as petty theft or larceny. Petty theft or robbery is regularly used to describe shoplifting from stores. 

Elizabeth Coleman

I am a lawyer by profession and a blogger by passion. I started blogging to express my views on various issues.The blog has now become one of my passions. After seeing so many of my friends and colleagues using blogs for their business purposes, I decided to share my views through my blog.I love reading other people's blogs. I am trying to write one every day, and sometimes when I have time I write two or three posts per day.