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Michigan Penal Code Section 360 (MCL 750.360): Larceny in a Building

1. Definition and Elements of the Crime

Larceny in a building is stealing something in—you guessed it—a building. Michigan law treats larcenies committed in buildings more severely than those committed elsewhere. In fact, whether the larceny was committed inside a building will often be the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.

There are six elements to larceny in a building, 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, the property was taken in a building.
  4. Fourth, there was some movement of the property. (It does not matter whether the defendant kept the property or whether the property was taken off the premises.)
  5. Fifth, the property was worth something at the time it was taken.
  6. Sixth, the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

Unlike other larceny crimes, the value of the stolen property is largely irrelevant. If the property was worth something, it doesn’t matter if you stole a diamond or a marble.

Also worth mention, “building” as used in the statute is defined as “any dwelling house, house trailer, office, store, gasoline service station, shop, warehouse, mill, factory, hotel, school, barn, granary, ship, boat, vessel, church, house of worship, locker room or any building used by the public.”

2. Examples

A woman is at her friend’s house. She sees a necklace she likes. When the friend leaves the room, she grabs the necklace and puts it in her pocket. She still has it in her pocket when she leaves the friend’s house.

A man works at a factory making car parts. One day, his boss catches him taking aluminum from the factory and putting it in his car.

3. Related Offenses

Other similar or related offenses include:

  1. Larceny, MCL 750.356
  2. Larceny from a Motor Vehicle, MCL 750.356a
  3. Larceny from the Person, MCL 750.357

4. Defenses to Larceny from the Person

Common defenses to larceny from the person include (1) failure to prove the elements, (2) mistake, (3) claim of right, (4) consent, and (5) abandonment.

Consider the woman who took the necklace. Suppose she says that the necklace is actually hers and that she had left it at her friend’s house the last time she was over. In that case, the woman would have a claim of right defense—she wasn’t trying to steal it because she thought it was hers. Say, though, that the woman was mistaken and that the necklace wasn’t hers. Does she still have a claim of right defense? Yes. As long as she honestly believed the necklace was hers at the time she took it, she’s not liable for larceny in a building.

Now take the man who misappropriated the aluminum. Suppose he says that he found it in a waste receptacle in the factory. In that case, he could argue that the property had been abandoned. In other words, it was no longer “someone else’s property.” Even if the man was mistaken, just like the woman with the necklace, his honest belief means he did not have the intent to steal anything, so he is not liable for larceny in a building.

5. Penalties

Larceny in a building is a felony punishable by up to 4 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. So if there’s a colorable claim that any property taken was outside a building and not inside, the potential penalties can be starkly different.

6. Criminal Defense for Larceny in a Building

A conviction for larceny in a building will put a felony on your record, and you could be looking at prison time. If you’re under investigation for or have been charged with larceny in a building, you need to protect yourself by hiring 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 in a building and to talk about your case, contact Grabel & Associates at (800) 342-7896.

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