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Grand Larceny vs. Grand Theft

Detroit Legal Group PLLC Feb. 7, 2024

While you may have heard the words "larceny" and "theft" often used interchangeably, they definitely have distinct meanings.  

Grand larceny refers to a felony charge that comes into play when someone steals goods from another person or business. It's typically associated with non-violent or passive theft crimes.  

The term "grand theft" is used interchangeably with grand larceny in some states. However, other states differentiate between the two based on the violence involved in the crime - using the term "aggravated" for violent offenses. So, while these terms might seem identical at first glance, their application can vary depending on where you are. 

In other words, if you hear about a larceny charge, it's generally considered a lesser offense than a theft charge. But this can vary based on the specific laws of each state. 

Examples of Grand Larceny 

So how do these crimes manifest in real life? Here are some examples that could constitute grand larceny: 

  • Taking high-value items from a store without paying. 

  • Stealing personal property from someone's home, such as electronics or jewelry, that exceed a certain dollar amount. 

  • Removing equipment or other valuable items from a business premise.  

  • Using deception or false pretenses to obtain goods or services that exceed a certain dollar amount.  

  • Taking livestock or crops from someone else's farm property without their permission. 

Examples of Grand Theft 

Again, grand theft is typically associated with more violent crimes or those that involve physical force. Here are some examples of grand theft offenses: 

  • Robbery, which is defined as taking property from a person's immediate possession through the use of force or fear. 

  • Burglary, which involves unlawfully entering a building or structure with the intent to commit a theft. 

  • Auto theft, where someone forcefully steals another person's vehicle without their permission.  

  • Extortion, where someone uses threats to obtain money or property from another person. 

Money Talks: The Role of Monetary Thresholds 

In criminal law, money often plays a crucial role in determining the severity of a crime. And this principle holds true when differentiating between grand larceny and grand theft. The value of the stolen goods is a key factor in classifying a crime as one or the other. 

But this monetary threshold isn't consistent across the board. Each state has the autonomy to set its own dollar amount for what constitutes grand larceny, ranging anywhere from $750 to $5,000. And in some states, you won't even hear the term grand larceny. Instead, they use classifications like petty or grand theft. 

To build off of that, the beauty (or complexity) of our legal system lies in its variations. Each state has its own set of rules when it comes to grand larceny and grand theft, just like they do with divorce proceedings, DUI charges, car accidents, and other legal issues.  

For instance, in New York, the minimum threshold for grand larceny starts at $5,000. This is on the higher end of the spectrum when compared to other states.  

So if you find yourself facing charges of grand larceny or grand theft, make sure to consult a lawyer familiar with the laws of your state. They can help you understand exactly what you're up against and guide you toward your best possible outcome. If you're in or near Detroit, Michigan, our attorneys at Detroit Legal Group PLLC are here to assist. 

The Consequences: Sentencing and Penalties 

Now that we've got the definitions down, let's talk about the potential consequences. As a felony offense in most states, grand larceny can carry a hefty sentence — up to 20 years in jail. 

Again, sentencing guidelines are state-specific. Each state determines the severity of grand theft based on the value of the stolen property. And when it comes to fines, they can range from $5,000 to over $100,000. Plus, restitution may be required. 

A Closer Look at Michigan Penalties 

In Michigan, if the value is $1,000 or more but less than $20,000, you're looking at up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. For stolen property valued between $20,000 and $50,000, the penalty can include up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000. If the stolen property is worth $50,000 or more, you could face up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Remember, these are serious charges.  

Being charged with grand larceny or a similar crime is a significant event. You may just be seeking information from this article, and that's great. But if you or someone you know is facing charges, it's crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advocate for your rights. Don't hesitate to reach out to our Detroit firm — or one in your own jurisdiction — if you have any further questions or require assistance. 

Serious Crimes Call for Serious Representation 

Understanding the difference between grand larceny and grand theft isn't just legal jargon. It's crucial for anyone researching this topic or facing charges related to these crimes.  

If you're dealing with charges related to grand larceny or grand theft, don't navigate these murky waters alone. Reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide guidance based on your state's laws. Remember, knowledge is power, and we're here to empower you. 

At Detroit Legal Group PLLC, we're not just experienced trial attorneys. We're advocates for justice, champions for our clients, and a source of legal knowledge for our community. From our home base in Detroit, Michigan, we work with clients in the surrounding areas of Dearborn, Southfield, and Warren. Contact us today to set up a time to discuss your case