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Michigan Penal Code Section 357 (MCL 750.357): Larceny from the Person

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Larceny from the person involves stealing something from a victim’s “person” (i.e., body) or from a victim’s “immediate presence.” Larceny from the person fills the interstice between ordinary larceny (no “person” or “immediate presence” requirement) and robbery (which requires that force or the threat or force be used against a victim). Although all theft crimes, each carries significantly different penalties.

There are five elements to larceny from the person, all of which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. First, the defendant took someone else’s property.
  2. Second, the defendant took the property without consent.
  3. Third, there was some movement of the property. (It does not matter whether the defendant kept the property.)
  4. Fourth, the defendant took the property from the complainant’s person or from his or her immediate presence. Immediate presence means that the property was physically connected to the complainant or was right next to him or her.
  5. Fifth, the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Unlike other larceny crimes, the value of the stolen property is inconsequential. Whether it was a valuable piece of jewelry or a No. 2 pencil, if it was taken from the victim’s person or immediate presence, you’re on the hook for larceny from the person.

2. Examples

A woman is sitting on a park bench. She has her purse right next to her on the bench. Another woman sitting on the bench grabs the purse and walks away.

A man is in his driveway working under his car. He has his tools laid out next to him on the driveway. Another man walks over, takes a wrench, and walks away.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Larceny, MCL 750.356
  2. Larceny from a Motor Vehicle, MCL 750.356a

4. Defenses to Larceny from the Person

Common defenses to larceny from the person include (1) lack of intent, (2) mistake, (3) claim of right, and (4) consent.

Take the woman who walked off with the purse. Suppose she thought the purse was hers and took it by mistake. If true, she didn’t have the intent to steal necessary for larceny. As with any defense, context will determine its likelihood of success. If the woman started to run after snatching the purse and looked back to see if she was being chased, a mistake defense is unlikely to be a winner.

Now consider the man who took the wrench. Suppose he’s a neighbor, and suppose the man working under the car had previously told him he could borrow his tools whenever he liked. If corroborated, this would establish consent, a complete defense to larceny from the person.

5. Penalties

Larceny from the person is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Compare ordinary larceny, a misdemeanor punishable by no more than 1 year in jail if the value of the property was under $1,000. This makes the “person” or “immediate presence” element of larceny from the person crucial. In a case where it’s undisputed that the defendant stole something, showing that the stolen property was not on the victim’s person or in his or her immediate presence can be the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor. By contrast, robbery is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and armed robbery is punishable by up to life in prison.

6. Criminal Defense for Larceny from the Person

Prosecutors take larceny from the person charges seriously. And with potential prison time on the line, you need to take it seriously, too. If you’re under investigation for or have been charged with larceny from the person, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Grabel & Associates has been in business for more than 20 years and has handled hundreds of theft cases. Our highly respected attorneys know what it takes to obtain the best result in your case.

For more information about larceny from the person and to talk about your case, contact Grabel & Associates at (800) 342-7896.

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