LARCENY FROM THE PERSON
This blog post will answer the following questions on the criminal offense of larceny from the person:
What does Commonwealth law say on the crime of larceny from the person?
Commonwealth law states that:
“Whoever commits larceny by stealing from the person of another will be punished.”
Larceny from the person is the wrongful taking of personal property from the person of another, or from the immediate area of control of another, with the intent to deprive that person of the property permanently.
How does the Commonwealth prove a defendant guilty of the crime of larceny from the person?
In order to prove the defendant guilty of the offense of larceny from the person, the Commonwealth must prove the following four elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt (ALL):
Are larceny from the person and robbery the same thing?
NO, larceny from the person is NOT the same criminal offense as robbery although larceny from the person is a lesser-included offenseof robbery. The difference between the two is that larceny from the person, unlike robbery, requires an absence of the use or threat of force.
Note that in a robbery prosecution, the element of larceny “from the person” includes the common law concept of larceny in the victim’s presence.
How have Commonwealth courts ruled on cases of larceny from the person?
In Commonwealth v. Diamond(1849) the courts determined that larceny from the person can be committed by fraud rather than stealth.
In Commonwealth v. McDonald (1850) the courts ruled that putting a hand into an empty pocket supports a conviction for attempted larceny from the person.
In Commonwealth v. Burke(1866) the courts determined that value of the property in question is not an element of the crime.
In Commonwealth v. Luckis (1868) the courts ruled that a wallet does not necessarily need to be removed from the victim’s pocket to constitute larceny from the person. However, the defendant does for an instant need to at least have had perfect control of the property.
In Commonwealth v. Cline (1913) the courts established that it was unnecessary to allege the victim’s name or to allege description or value of the property in proving the elements of the crime.
In Commonwealth v. Subilosky (1967) it was determined that property need only be taken from the victim’s area of control in his presence to satisfy the third element of the offense. This case involved theft from cash drawers supervised by a bank manager.
In Commonwealth v. Acevedo (1988) the courts ruled that theft of a package set on the ground while the victim opened the trunk of a motor vehicle was “from the person”.
Is pickpocketing and purse snatching larceny from the person?
An ordinary pickpocketing usually is a larceny from the person rather than an unarmed robbery, even if the victim realizes what is happening, because no intimidation is involved and the “force” utilized is not the kind of violence necessary for robbery.
Note that a purse snatching of which the victim is aware involves sufficient force to constitute robbery, even if done so quickly as to deny the victim an opportunity to resist.
Does value of the stolen property matter when the crime of larceny from the person is alleged?
NO, unlike general larceny offenses, whether or not the stolen property is worth more or less than $250 is irrelevant to punishment in prosecution of larceny from the person charges.
Does the offense become more legally severe if the victim of larceny from the person is 65 years old or older?
YES, larceny from the person of a victim who is 65 years or older is an aggravated form of larceny from the person.
Note that the jury may consider the victim’s physical appearance as one factor in determining his or her age. However, appearance alone is not sufficient evidence of age unless the victim is of “a marked extreme” age since generally speaking judging on age or physical appearance is guesswork.
IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH LARCENY FROM THE PERSON, AND YOU NEED AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER WORKING ON YOUR SIDE TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS, PLEASE CONTACT CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY WILLIAM J. BARABINO.
CALL 781-393-5900 TO LEARN MORE ABOUT YOUR AVAILABLE DEFENSES.
Source: Instruction 8.560