Intentionally stealing another person’s property could result in petit larceny charges depending on the value of the stolen property. Petit larceny is less serious than other theft offenses such as larceny on a person or grand theft. However, a conviction for petit larceny carries a potential jail term. Therefore, it's wise to secure the services of a theft defense attorney to help you fight these charges. The Law Offices of Martin Hart regularly work with clients facing various theft charges and could help you understand and fight charges of petit larceny in Las Vegas.
Legal Definition and Elements of Petit Larceny
Nevada NRS 205.240 defines petit larceny as the crime of intentionally stealing another person’s property worth less than $1,200.
The elements that the prosecution must prove in petit larceny include:
- You intentionally stole, took, carried, led, or drove away
- The personal goods or property of another person
- The property or goods were worth less than $1200
Petit theft also occurs when you intentionally steal the bedding, furniture, or property worth less than $1200 from a lodging facility. It is also a crime to intentionally steal another person's domesticated animals or birds whose aggregate value of $1200 or less.
When you are charged with petit larceny, the court will rely on either market research or expert testimony to determine the value of an item, especially where such value is not clear from the beginning. For example, if you shoplift at a local store, it is easy to determine the price of that item from its price tag.
However, if facing charges of stealing a domesticated cat, the court has to rely on expert witnesses who can determine the market value of the cat.
Penalties of Petit Larceny
Petit larceny in Nevada is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1000. In addition to these penalties, the court might order you to pay restitution to the victims based on the value of the stolen goods.
Although theft is a deportable offense, petit larceny does not result in the deportation of a legal alien, as the maximum sentence is six months in jail. If you still have questions about how a petit larceny charge or conviction will affect your legal status.
In some cases, the court may dismiss your case, especially if you are a first-time offender. In exchange for the dismissal, you must pay a fine, restitute the victim and attend a Petit Larceny course. Petit larceny courses educate you on the consequences of larceny.
The court will reinstate the conviction if you fail to meet the conditions for dismissing your case.
Fighting Petit Larceny Charges
When you are charged with petit larceny, the prosecution's goal is to prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. In most larceny charges, the prosecution relies on eyewitness testimony and surveillance footage when available. You and your defense attorney will be working to fight these charges by providing evidence that shows you do not meet the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Some of the common defenses to petit larceny include:
You Did Not Take Another Person’s Property
To be guilty of petit larceny, you must have taken another person’s property. Therefore, if you did not take their property, you are not guilty of the offense.
Touching another person’s property does not qualify as petit larceny as you did not take it. For example, if you enter a store to shoplift, but you only go as far as touching the item, you cannot be charged with petit larceny, even if another person was aware of your prior intent to steal the item.
You Had No Intention to Steal
To be guilty of petit larceny, you must have the specific intent to steal. This means that accidentally taking something without the intention to steal does not qualify as petit larceny.
For example, Mary is visiting her friend Lucy. Both have brown fur coats, but Lucy happens to be a designer. When leaving, Mary accidentally takes Lucy's coat and leaves with it, after which Lucy reports Mary for theft.
In this case, Mary accidentally takes Lucy's coat but has no intention of stealing it. Therefore, the court could dismiss her case as she does not have the criminal intent required in theft cases.
The Person permitted You to Have the Said Item
Larceny occurs when you take another person's property without their consent. However, if the person consented to take the item, you cannot be guilty of the offense. When using this as a defense, the court also seeks to determine whether there were any terms to the owner's consent.
Jake lends his lawnmower to Jimmy on a Sunday. Jake tells Jimmy that he should return it by Tuesday as he would be mowing his lawn then. Jimmy fails to return the lawnmower that Tuesday and ignores additional attempts from Jake to return the mower. Eventually, Jake reports him for stealing his mower.
In this case, Jimmy cannot cite the defense of consent since he failed to abide by the terms of that consent.
The Items in Question Were Yours
You are only guilty of petit larceny if you take another person’s property. Therefore, you cannot be charged for larceny if the items belonged to you in the first place. If you can prove that you own the items in question, the court will dismiss your case.
The same defense can also apply when you had a good-faith belief that you owned the property in question. For example, let's say you visited a motel but always carry your towel. When leaving, you accidentally carry the motel's towel that matches your own. In this case, you can defend yourself by saying that you had a reasonable belief that the item you carried was yours.
What to Do After a Conviction
If the court finds you guilty of petit larceny, you will serve a jail sentence or be placed on probation. If you are on probation, you must meet all the conditions the court sets to avoid further charges. Some of these conditions include paying court-ordered fines and victim restitution.
You should also refrain from criminal behavior to reduce the chances of facing new charges for another offense.
Once you have completed your probation or sentence, you can pursue a motion to seal your criminal record. For a petit larceny conviction, you are eligible to seal your criminal record a year after the court closes your case.
Record sealing is available for anyone who:
- Had their charges denied (you were arrested for petit larceny, but the D.A. did not file charges.
- Was charged with an offense, but the court dismissed the charge
- Was acquitted of the charges at trial
- Committed a sealable offense
One benefit of sealing your criminal record is that applying for multiple job opportunities that you would not have accessed with a criminal record is easier.
Record sealing in Nevada is often an arduous process that involves heavy paperwork. The process also varies significantly depending on the jurisdiction you are in. Therefore, you should contact an attorney to help you with the process.
You will need a current and certified copy of your criminal record during the process. You must also fill in various forms (depending on the jurisdiction).
When filling in the forms, you must provide complete information as missing information will result in the denial of your petition. In addition to paperwork, you are supposed to pay around $150 for the process.
Once you file your petition for record sealing with the court, it will take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete the process.
Note, if you have unsealable offenses on your record, you cannot petition to seal a criminal record for a sealable offense such as petit larceny. For instance, if you were previously convicted of felony DUI, you are ineligible for a record sealing due to the DUI conviction.
Petit larceny is one of the theft crimes in Nevada. If you are accused of stealing another person's property, you could be charged with other theft offenses depending on the circumstances of the case. Here are some common charges related to petit larceny.
Nevada law defines larceny as intentionally stealing another person's property without that person's permission. Larceny, also known as grand theft, involves property valued at more than $1,200.
Grand larceny is a felony. The penalties usually depend on the value of stolen goods as follows:
- Where the stolen items were worth between $1,200 and $5,000, you face one to four years in prison and fines of up to $5000.
- If the property was worth more than $5000 and less than $25,000, the sentence is also 1 to five years in prison, but the fines could be as high as $10,000.
- Stealing items worth $25,000 but less than $100,000 is a class B felony punishable by one to ten years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
- Stealing items worth $100,000 or more is a class B felony that could result in one to twenty years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000
In addition to prison time and fines, you must pay restitution for the stolen items once convicted of grand theft. A felony conviction may also lead to losing your firearm and voting rights.
Larceny from a Person
NRS 205.270 makes it a crime to intentionally steal property from a person without their consent and without using force, violence, or the threat of force or violence. Larceny from a person is the offense of pickpocketing.
The offense often occurs without the knowledge of the victim. When arrested for larceny from a person, you face up to five years in prison since the offense is a Class C felony. Those convicted of larceny from a person are also expected to restitute the victim and pay a criminal fine which could be as high as $10,000.
In some cases, larceny from a person is used as a plea bargain when charged with a theft crime that carries heavier penalties.
Grand Larceny of a Firearm
NRS 205.226 makes it a crime to intentionally steal another person’s firearm. You can be charged with grand larceny of a firearm even if the firearm was of low value, had been stolen by another person, or was broken.
Grand larceny of a firearm is a class B felony with a prison sentence of one to 10 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Stealing more than one firearm will result in separate charges for each firearm stolen, even if they were stolen at the same time and from the same person.
Grand larceny of a firearm also results in losing your gun rights and could lead to deportation for non-citizens.
Grand Larceny of a Motor Vehicle
Grand larceny of a motor vehicle or grand theft auto refers to the crime of intentionally stealing another person’s car.
Grand theft auto is a Class C felony that could result in up to five years in prison, up to $10,000 in fines, and restitution to the victim.
If you commit grand theft auto for a second vehicle, the offense becomes a class B felony with a maximum sentence of six years in prison.
Grand larceny of a motor vehicle is an aggravated felony that could lead to deportation if you are a non-citizen.
Robbery is the crime of stealing property using force, violence, or threats. Robbery is a Class B felony with up to 15 years in prison. It can also carry stiffer penalties when the defendant used a deadly weapon during the commission of a robbery.
Find a Theft Defense Attorney Near Me
Defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Martin Hart have defended those facing petit larceny charges in Las Vegas for years. While these charges have a short jail sentence of up to 6 months, they can carry collateral consequences such as problems finding work. We help you prepare a defense by examining different factors in the case and challenging the evidence from the prosecution. Our support extends after the case to help you seal your criminal record, should the offense end in a conviction. If you or a loved one are facing petit larceny charges, book your free consultation at 702-380-4278.