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Larceny cases tend to be very complicated. Often, the accused are facing a combination of charges in addition to their theft charge. For example, it is not uncommon to see assault charges and home invasion charges accompanying larceny charges. The courts are very strict regarding sentencing, and a larceny conviction can land you in prison for years. With so much at stake, you must secure legal representation as soon as you can.
As a firm, Levine & Levine is highly respected in the legal community, and we are well-known for delivering aggressive defense strategies. Backed by an intellectual understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we fight tirelessly for our clients. Our theft crime defense attorneys in Kalamazoo have over a century of collective experience, and as a firm, we are rooted in our belief that everyone deserves dedicated legal representation.
The Difference Between Larceny & Theft
The terms “larceny” and “theft” are often used interchangeably. In Michigan law, theft crimes are legally referred to as larceny. You may also hear the term “property crime” to describe theft. Generally speaking, larceny is defined as the stealing of property from another person. The Michigan Penal Code criminalizes the theft of specific categories of property.
The types of property defined in the penal code include:
- Money, goods, and chattel (property that is not real estate)
- Banknotes, bills, bonds, or promissory notes
- Account books concerning money or goods due
- Deed for the conveyance of land
- Receipts, releases, or defeasances (documentation rendering something null and void)
- Writs or public records
- Scrap metal
Closely related to theft crimes is breaking and entering (also referred to as burglary). Not only is breaking and entering illegal, but simply entering a private dwelling or building without permission is also prohibited. Breaking and entering to commit theft is covered under Michigan’s home invasion laws. All home invasions are charged as felonies.
Theft Penalties in Michigan
In Michigan, penalties for theft vary based on the value of the stolen property.
Here's a general breakdown:
- Property value less than $200: This is typically considered a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500, plus restitution.
- Property value between $200 and $1,000: This is a misdemeanor or felony, carrying a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000, plus restitution.
- Property value between $1,000 and $20,000: This is a felony, punishable by imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000, plus restitution.
- Property value between $20,000 and $100,000: This is a felony, with a penalty of imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $15,000, plus restitution.
- Property value exceeding $100,000: This is a felony, carrying a penalty of imprisonment for up to 15 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000, plus restitution.
The penalties can also be influenced by other factors, such as prior criminal history, the nature of the theft, and whether it involved violence or other criminal acts.
Understanding Home Invasion Charges
First degree home invasion refers to breaking and entering a dwelling with the intent to commit assault, a felony, or theft. To be charged with first degree home invasion, you must also be armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of breaking and entering, or while someone else is lawfully in the dwelling. Second degree home invasion is defined as breaking and entering a dwelling with the intent to commit a felony, assault, or larceny. Third degree home invasion involves unlawfully entering a dwelling with the intent to commit a misdemeanor, or breaking and entering while also violating parole, probation, a personal protection order, or some condition of bond or bail.
Home invasion penalties may include:
- First degree home invasion: up to 20 years in prison and/or up to $5,000 in fines
- Second degree home invasion: up to 15 years in prison and/or up to $3,000 in fines
- Third degree home invasion: up to 5 years in prison and/or up to $2,000 in fines
It is important to remember that the courts can require first degree home invasion sentencing to be served consecutively with other prison terms applied to the case. This means that if you receive a 5-year sentence for assault and a 15-year sentence for home invasion, you potentially will face a total of 20 years in prison.
Legal Defenses Against Theft Charges
If you have been charged with a theft offense, one of the most important steps to take is hiring a criminal defense lawyer who specializes in theft cases. Your attorney can evaluate your case and determine any and all legal defenses that may apply to your case.
Some common legal defenses that could be used against theft charges:
- Lack of Intent: If the accused didn't have the intention to permanently deprive the owner of their property, it might not constitute theft. For instance, if someone mistakenly believed the item was theirs or intended to return it, it could be argued that there was no criminal intent.
- Claim of Right: If the accused genuinely believed they had a right to the property, even if that belief was mistaken, it might serve as a defense. For example, if someone took an item under a good faith belief that they had a legal claim to it or a right to possess it, it might not be considered theft.
- Consent: If the owner consented to the defendant's actions, even if the owner later changed their mind, it might not be considered theft. However, proving consent might require strong evidence.
- Mistake of Fact: If the accused made an honest mistake about the circumstances, such as believing the item was abandoned or believing they had permission to take it, it might serve as a defense.
- Duress or Coercion: If the accused was compelled or forced to commit the theft under threat or coercion, it might be a valid defense. This could involve situations where someone was threatened with harm if they didn't take the property.
- Lack of Evidence: If there's insufficient evidence to prove that the accused committed the theft, it might result in a dismissal of charges.
- Entrapment: If law enforcement induced the accused to commit the theft when they wouldn't have done so otherwise, it might be considered entrapment and could serve as a defense.
We Have Fought Larceny Charges in Kalamazoo Since 1987
Over the decades, Levine & Levine has developed a reputation for excellence. We have a high rate of acquittals, and our success record speaks for itself. If you were charged with a theft crime in Southwest Michigan including Kalamazoo, Calhoun, St. Joseph, or Van Buren counties, our attorneys are just a phone call away. We work hard to help our clients understand the charges brought against them and their legal options.
Starting from a strong foundation in the law, we provide our clients with creative solutions that help them put their best foot forward in court. Our attorneys are qualified and driven. When prosecutors or law enforcement violate our clients’ rights, we fight back. Intimidation doesn’t work on us. We know how important a successful outcome is for you, and our attorneys are tireless in our pursuit of justice for our clients.
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