Terms like “theft” and larceny” are often used interchangeably in everyday language. However, in the legal context, these terms mean specific things with important distinctions between them. Read on to learn more about the precise legal definitions of theft and larceny and how they differ from one another.
What are the similarities between larceny and theft?
Larceny and theft are more similar than they are different. Both involve attempting to permanently deprive another person or legal entity of their property. This involves the use of tactics like trickery or deception. Larceny and theft are non-violent crimes; when violence is involved, the seriousness of the crime escalates and becomes robbery or another charge.
Sometimes, charges don’t match the alleged crime. Criminal defense attorneys must always check to ensure that their clients are charged with the appropriate crime.
What is the difference between larceny and theft?
Although theft is most commonly associated with physical goods, it can also include financial crimes, intellectual property theft, identity theft, and the taking of any other non-material goods. Larceny is most often used to refer to the theft of physical items while theft has a broader application, including the types listed above.
How are theft and larceny used at the national level?
National law enforcement groups are required to compile data from all jurisdictions within the United States. Given that role, parsing through the distinct legal definitions of each state would be too difficult of a task. For the sake of simple data reporting at the national level, the FBI groups together larceny and theft.
Essentially, larceny and theft are interchangeable in many circumstances. In Texas, larceny technically refers to the illegal taking of material goods and does not include identity theft and other crimes.