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What Is a Petty Larceny Charge? Petit Larceny Lawyer Answers

Our Mississippi lawyers are asked these three petit larceny theft questions in a larceny case, from those accused of crimes under MSA 97-17-43:

  1. Can you go to jail for larceny? YES.
  2. For petty larceny first offense, how much jail time is possible? Up to 6 months.
  3. Are there defenses to larceny? YES, including mistaken identity of perpetrator, and lack of intent to deprive the owner of the item or items. This is sometimes called larceny by mistake, when a person is unaware that the acts are not authorized by the owner. The law calls this a "good faith belief." Another possible defense relates to whether the State proved the value of the item. In Barry v. State, 406 So.2d 45 (1981), the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned the accused's grand larceny conviction on this basis.

Depending on the circumstances, a petty larceny felony might not be supported by the proof at trial that the accused lacked the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the item. In such cases, he or she will not be convicted of petit larceny, if represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney who carries the burden of persuasion on this issue.

If the grand larceny value is in excess of $1,000, then grand larceny jail time can reach twenty years. So, the price tag of the stolen property controls potential punishment and the possible maximum prison sentence. The code section describing the grand larceny meaning in Mississippi is found in MSA Code Section 97-17-41.

What Is a Good Petit Larceny Definition?

Larceny crimes are thefts of private property of another. In most states, larcenies are broken down into two major categories. Grand larceny is for crimes involving property of high dollar value, as defined by each state legislature. Petty larceny crimes are those for a smaller amount or character, also as defined by the legislative body in each state or commonwealth in the United States.

The word "petit" derives from English common law and comes from the Anglo-French origins in the Middle Ages and means "small" or "minor." Over the years, the word "petty" became the modern vernacular.

Petit Larceny Penalty and Law Defined

Petty Larceny: MSA Code 97 17 43

(1) If any person shall feloniously take, steal and carry away any personal property of another under the value of Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), he shall be guilty of petit larceny and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six (6) months or by fine not exceeding One Thousand Dollars ($1000.00), or both. The total value of property taken, stolen or carried away by the person from a single victim shall be aggregated in determining the gravity of the offense.

(2) If any person shall feloniously take, steal and carry away any property of a church, synagogue, temple or other established place of worship under the value of Five Hundred Dollars ($ 500.00), he shall be guilty of petit larceny and, upon conviction, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one (1) year or by fine not exceeding Two Thousand Dollars ($ 2,000.00), or both.

(3) Any person who leaves the premises of an establishment at which motor fuel offered for retail sale was dispensed into the fuel tank of a motor vehicle by driving away in that motor vehicle without having made due payment or authorized charge for the motor fuel so dispensed, with intent to defraud the retail establishment, shall be guilty of petit larceny and punished as provided in subsection (1) of this section and, upon any second or subsequent such offense, the driver's license of the person shall be suspended as follows:

(a) The person shall submit the driver's license to the court upon conviction and the court shall forward the driver's license to the Department of Public Safety.

(b) The first suspension of a driver's license under this subsection shall be for a period of six (6) months.

(c) A second or subsequent suspension of a driver's license under this subsection shall be for a period of one (1) year.

(d) At the expiration of the suspension period, and upon payment of a restoration fee of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00), the suspension shall terminate and the Department of Public Safety shall return the person's driver's license to the person. The restoration fee shall be in addition to the fees provided for in Title 63, Chapter 1, and shall be deposited into the State General Fund in accordance with Section 45-1-23.

MS Code Section 97-17-43

Grand Larceny crimes cover more special situations (e.g., stealing from a church of other religious organization) and apply higher dollar amount thefts. The more serious theft crime of Grand Larceny Mississippi carries up to 20 years in prison and is found in MSA Section 97 17 41.

Criminal Lawyers Near Me in Mississippi for Larceny Crimes

If facing any type of theft charge in MS, call today for a FREE consultation to 1-800-360-3847. The author and Lance Mixon plus senior partner Vic Carmody have a combined 68 years of criminal law experience in the Magnolia State. Read our lawyer ratings on

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