Course: Criminal Law
Theft is the unlawful taking of another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of its use or enjoyment.
Under the Model Penal Code (MPC), theft is defined as the unlawful taking or exercising control over another person’s property with the intent to deprive them of its use or enjoyment. The MPC also identifies several different types of theft, including:
Theft by unlawful taking or disposition: This occurs when a person takes or exercises control over another person’s property without their consent and with the intent to deprive them of its use or enjoyment.
Theft by deception: This occurs when a person obtains another person’s property by knowingly making false statements or misrepresentations.
Theft by extortion: This occurs when a person obtains another person’s property by threatening them with harm or injury.
Theft of property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake: This occurs when a person takes possession of property that they know or should know was lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake and fails to take reasonable steps to return it to its rightful owner.
In order for a theft to occur, the defendant must have acted with the specific intent to deprive the owner of the property. This means that accidental or unintentional taking of property does not constitute theft under the MPC.
The severity of the offense of theft can vary depending on the value of the property involved. In general, theft of property valued at less than $200 is classified as a summary offense, while theft of property valued at more than $200 is classified as a felony.
In addition to criminal penalties, a person who is convicted of theft may also be required to pay restitution to the victim, which involves reimbursing them for the value of the property that was taken.
Overall, theft is a serious criminal offense that can result in significant legal and financial consequences for the defendant.
Reference: American Law Institute. (1985). Model Penal Code and Commentaries (Official Draft and Revised Comments). Philadelphia, PA: American Law Institute.
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Last Modified: 03/14/2023