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Larceny and its status as a potential federal crime

When it comes to many offenses committed in Washington State, a person may be charged with a crime at either the state or federal level. For example, in some circumstances, larceny may be charged at the federal level. A person facing federal charges is often wise to seek out a criminal defense attorney experienced in defending against federal crimes.

Larceny is typically defined as a type of theft -- usually, state and federal statutes define larceny as the taking of another person's property, but without the use of force. If the use of force is involved, or if authorities believe force was involved, a person might find themselves facing different charges, such as armed robbery or various weapons charges. Frequently, the theft of a vehicle falls under the definition of larceny. Unlike robbery, this type of theft often does not involve the use of force.

A crime of larceny often exhibits four different elements, all of which come together to form the offense. These elements are usually the unlawful taking of something, the "something" being property which belongs to someone else, lack of consent from the property's owner and an intention to take away the property from its owner permanently. In court, all of these elements must usually be proven in order to convict an individual on a larceny charge.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were over six million larceny thefts across the country in 2010. During that year, larceny thefts composed almost 70 percent of all property crimes. Over a quarter of these thefts involved motor vehicles. Interestingly, from 2001 to 2010, the rate of estimated larceny thefts actually went down nearly 20 percent.

Being a suspect in a larceny case can be very intimidating. Whether one is accused of a federal crime or a more local offense, navigating the courts and defending against accusations is likely to be a very involved and draining process. A federal crimes attorney can assume the responsibility of shielding a defendant from zealous prosecution and potential infringement of rights in the criminal justice system.

Source:, "Larceny - Theft," accessed May 7, 2016

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