Ever since humans evolved to the degree that they could recognize the concept of “property”, disputes have arisen over what happens when one person acquires or possesses the property of another without permission. Today, Oklahoma is like every other state in the United States in having statutes that define what theft is, and how it should be punished upon a criminal court conviction. This post provides an overview of Oklahoma’s theft charge laws, as well as some of the more common legal defenses against them.
Officially, Oklahoma refers to theft as “larceny”, and defines that term to mean intentionally taking the property of another surreptitiously or by means of fraud. Larceny should be distinguished from robbery, which involves the taking of another’s property through means of violence or intimidation; technically speaking, if someone returns home to find that it has been broken into while he was away and things were stolen, he should exclaim, “I’ve been larcenized!” instead of “I’ve been robbed!”
Oklahoma larceny statutes cover several distinct forms of larceny beyond the generic description above. There are state laws that deal with larceny of documents such as tickets and written instruments, fixtures from real property, or from a home, or tapping of oil and gas lines, and even larceny of animals.
Aside from statutes covering specific types of larceny, another distinction that is important to understand is the difference between minor (“petit”) larceny and “grand” larceny. Oklahoma defines grand larceny as one of two types: taking of property valued at more than $500, or taking of property from the person of another (again, distinguish robbery: no force or intimidation would be involved in this situation). Any other kind of larceny is of the petit variety.
The difference between grand and petit larceny extends to the punishments for each. Grand larceny is a felony punishable by a stay in state prison if the property value is more than $500, and if it is less than that (that is, the taking of property from another’s person) then it is subject to imprisonment in county jail. Fines of up to $5,000 and payment of restitution are also included in the punishments that can be meted out by the court.
Now that you are basically acquainted with what larceny is, how it is different from robbery, and the difference between grand and petit larceny, the next thing you may be wondering about is, “If I am accused of larceny, how can I defend myself against the charge?” Larceny prosecutions are not always open-and-shut cases for the prosecution; there are several ways to challenge the assumption that your possession of the property of another constitutes larceny including a good faith belief that the property is yours, or that at least you have a valid claim to it. Another possible defense is that there was no intent to deprive the owner of the property.
There are other types of available defenses as well which is why it is important to contact the Hunsucker Legal Group to decide upon the best course of action based on your specific facts and circumstances. Fort your free consultation, contact us at 405-231-5600