Grand Larceny

Petit Larceny

Larceny from the Person

Reporter’s Notes

Grand Larceny.  The Supreme Court explained the definition of grand larceny in State v. Reed, 127 Vt. 532 (1969).  “A person steals if he takes property from one in lawful possession without right, with the intention to keep it wrongfully.”  Id. at 538 (citing Morissette v. United States, 342 U.S. 246).  The question of criminal intent is for the jury to consider according to all the circumstances brought before them.  Id. at 538 (citations omitted).

Larceny requires proof that the defendant “intended to permanently separate the owner from his [or her] property, or at least deliberately act so as to make it unlikely that the owner and his [or her] property would be reunited.”  State v. Hanson, 141 Vt. 228, 232 (1982).  “Larceny specifically requires an intent to steal at the very moment the property in question is taken into possession by the defendant.”  Id. at 232.  The State need not prove that the defendant intended to steal an item of particular value.  State v. Houle, 157 Vt. 640 (1991).

The instructions have a bracketed explanation for fair market value.  The discussion of fair market value is not necessary in cases charging larceny of cash.

 Petit Larceny.  When the defendant is charged with petit larceny under 13 V.S.A. § 2502, at issue is whether the property stolen had some monetary value.  It should not be necessary for the State to prove that the value of the property does not exceed $500.  See State v. Nelson, 91 Vt. 168 (1917) (evidence showed that the stolen chickens had some value).  Compare State v. Persons, 117 Vt. 306 (1952), where the Court reversed the conviction for petit larceny, and remanded the case for a jury to determine the value and whether it was over or under $50, and where, upon remand to the trial court, the State dropped the charge of petit larceny and charged defendant with grand larceny.  State v. Persons, 117 Vt. 556 (1953).

Where the money or property need only have “some value,” the jury need not find any particular value, and there is no need to discuss “fair market value.”

 Larceny From the Person.  The Vermont Supreme Court discussed the limits of “larceny from the person” in State v. Brennan, 172 Vt. 277 (2000).  Mr. Brennan, a hitchhiker who stole money from the purse in the back seat of the car, was not guilty of larceny from the person.  The item stolen need not be touching the owner, but it must be immediately within the owner’s control or presence.  In State v. Setien, 173 Vt. 576 (2002), the defendant committed the crime of larceny from the person when he ripped a necklace off the victim’s neck.