Larceny and Robbery

Larceny is defined as “trespassory taking and carrying away of property from the possession of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that property” (Clark, 2007). Thus, the essential elements of the crime are: 1) “wrongful taking, 2) carrying away, 3) personal property; 4) in possession of another and 5) with intent to covert or permanently deprive” (Austin Peay State University web site, n. d. ). There is wrongful taking when there is “control” even if such control is momentary only. This unlawful taking may be achieved through trickery, fraud, stealth or deception (Austin Peay State University web site, n.d. ).

The element of taking means that the property must be moved completely from the place it was taken even if the distance of said move was only slight. Personal property is considered to include even real properties, documents, services, information and the like (Austin Peay State University web site, n. d. ). The law requires testimony from the owner of the property that he owns the property and that it was taken without his consent. The last element which must be present in the crime is intent to gain some reward or value. For criminal liability to attach, two essential components must concur, i. e. “actus reus and mens rea.

” Actus reus is the external or physical component while mens rea is the internal or mental component (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 1998). In larceny, the mens rea or intention/purpose of the defendant is some pecuniary benefit or gain to be derived from the value of the property taken while the actus reus is “knowingly or recklessly making a false representation of a presently existing fact of pecuniary significance” (Clark, 2007). Robbery is “taking of money or goods in the possession of another, from his or her person or immediate presence, by force or intimidation” (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 1998).

The elements of the crime of robbery are: 1) unlawful taking of the personal property or money; 2) force is employed; 3) the taking was without the consent of the owner or possessor of the property; and, 4) intent or purpose of the offender or defendant (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 1998). The mens rea in robbery is intent or purpose to gain or profit and the actus reus is the use of force or intimidation to achieve the purpose. The distinct feature is in the force employed in unlawfully taking the property. Force may be actual or constructive (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 1998).

Actual force entails violence against the person of the victim. Constructive force on the other hand, refers to measures employed by the offender in preventing the victim from using free will or to resist the unlawful taking. For instance, there is robbery when there is use of drugs to deprive the victim from using his consciousness. The offender may use intimidation by instilling fear in the mind of the victim as to ensure that the latter would not offer any resistance. This may consist in threats of physical harm or death upon the person of the victim or members of his family (West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, 1998).

To illustrate, Joan stands along the road and waits for a cab. Mike pretends to have been lost and asks for directions from Joan. While Joan is intently explaining and pointing the direction to Mike, Mike grabs her purse and runs as fast as he could away from Joan. In this instance, Mike has committed the crime of larceny or theft. Mike’s mens rea is his purpose or intent to gain and profit from the valuables inside the purse of Joan. His actus reus is his trickery and deception of pretending to have been lost.

To illustrate robbery using a similar instance: Joan while waiting for a cab was approached by Mike who grabbed her purse immediately. Joan refused to let go of her purse until they grappled for it—rolling on the road. Mike gave Joan a blow on the head with his fist and scampered away with her purse. This is a clear instance of robbery because Mike used force on Joan to be able to take her purse. Mike’s men rea is his purpose of gaining or profiting from the valuables inside the purse and his actus reus is the use of force by giving a blow on the Joan’s head with his fist.


Austin Peay State University web site. Crimes against property: theft and hybrid crimes Retrieved on February 21, 2008, from http://www. apsu. edu/oconnort/3010/3010lect06a. htm Clark, M. Criminal rules. Retrieved on February 21, 2008, from http://matthewrclark. com/matthewrclark/Law_School/Law_Documents/Criminal%20Law/Outlines/CRIM%20LAW%20RULES%20ONLY%20-%20JT. doc. Farlex web site. The Free Dictionary. Retrieved on February 20, 2008, from http://legal-dictionary. thefreedictionary. com/kidnapping West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. The Gale Group, Inc. 1998.