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What is Petit Larceny?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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.

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.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a MyLawQuestions writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.

Discussion Comments

By sunshine31 — On Jan 15, 2011

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.

By BrickBack — On Jan 12, 2011

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.

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison

Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a MyLawQuestions writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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