In Rhode Island, “larceny” is a blanket term that covers a number of different types of theft crimes. Stealing, embezzlement, and theft by false pretenses are all crimes that fall under the umbrella term “larceny.” However, each of these crimes involve different conduct.
Theft as Larceny
Theft is probably the most commonly understood type of larceny. Basically, when someone takes something of value that doesn't belong to them, with the intention of not returning it to the rightful owner, this is theft. For example, if someone is at the grocery store, fills up their shopping cart with meat and seafood, and runs out of the store with their full cart, without paying for the meat and seafood, this is theft, which is also the kind of theft known as shoplifting.
Embezzlement as Larceny
Unlike with theft charges, embezzlement involves the fraudulent conversion of someone else's property by one in lawful possession of the property. Here's how embezzlement looks different than theft. Imagine, instead of a shopper, an employee of the store, who works in the meat and seafood department, takes the meat and seafood. He or she in “lawful possession” of the meat and seafood in the back of the store as part of assigned job duties. When he or she places the meat and seafood in a cart, pushes it out the back door, and loads it into the trunk of his or her personal car, instead of putting it in the refrigerated cases in the store as assigned to do, this is embezzlement.
Theft by False Pretenses as Larceny
An independent observer would know, just by watching, when a person runs out of a store with a cart filled with meat and seafood, without paying for it, that a crime has been committed. Similarly, by the time an employee has taken meat and seafood out the back door of the grocery store and starts loading it into the trunk of the car, an observer would know a crime is occurring. However, this is not necessarily so with theft by false pretenses. In this larceny crime, a person falsely represents facts in order to obtain goods without actually paying for them. For example, if John Doe, Jr. goes into the grocery store, loads up his cart with meat and seafood and pays for it with a debit card, this may not appear to be a crime. However, if John Doe, Jr. uses his father's debit card, which clearly states, “John Doe, Sr.” on it, and John Doe, Jr. knows this to be true, but is banking on the clerk not looking too closely, he has committed theft by false pretenses.
If You Face Larceny Charges...
If you are facing larceny charges in Rhode Island, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Kensley R. Barrett, Esq. can help. Contact our office online or at 401-380-6724 to set up a free consultation. We can speak with you about your charges, possible defenses you may have, and your options going forward. Many people feel helpless and hopeless when facing criminal charges. However, having qualified, experienced counsel can make all the difference. Contact us today to discuss your case.