Brad Post, Host, Create the Movement: Welcome to Your Best Defense podcast. We are speaking to Oklahoma City larceny defense attorney Jacqui Ford. Jacqui, how are you doing?
Jacqui Ford, Oklahoma City Criminal Defense Attorney: I’m doing great Brad! Thanks.
B: In the last podcast we talked about an overview of white-collar crimes. Today, we’re going to speak specifically on larceny.
J: Very good.
B: So, how would you define larceny, first of all?
J: Well, larceny is the taking of personal property, accomplished by fraud or stealth, and with the intent to deprive another thereof. Who talks like that Brad Post?
B: I don’t know.
J: Our Oklahoma legislature talks like that. And that’s how larceny is defined in Title 21. It’s a very vague statute. Before we did this podcast, I just did a quick count, and I counted 20 separate larceny statutes in Oklahoma.
J: Our laws have been on the books for a long time. You’ve got some really kind of specific larceny statutes, but in general, larceny is the taking of something, of personal property, that doesn’t belong to you. It can be anything from petty larceny. Which you and I might think of shoplifting, right?
J: So, you go into the store, and you take something out of the store without paying for it, and for so long that that thing did not have a value greater than $500, that is simply petty larceny. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor in the state of Oklahoma. Carries up to a year in the Oklahoma County jail, plus restitution and fines. Right?
So, all of the levels of embezzlement charges are going to include jail time, as well as possible fines. And in almost every case, if you are in fact got away with something, that the person was not able to recover, you’re going to have to pay restitution. And restitution is just making whole the victim who was taken from. So, if you stole $500, you pay back $500. If what you took had a value of $37.50, part of any plea negotiations is going to be paying that person back the $37.50. Or, the cost of fixing whatever you destroyed. You know? That’s what restitution is.
Larceny can be anything. It can be anything from taking a package of lip gloss from the Walgreens, all the way up to taking vehicles. You know? We’ve got grand larceny. And in Oklahoma, grand larceny is going to be the taking of anything that is valued at $500 or more.
The petty larceny is 500 or under. Grand larceny is 500 or over. That carries up to five years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, up to a $5000 fine, and restitution, if it’s so ordered.
B: Grand larceny?
J: Grand larceny. So, you know, people, and we’ve talked about this in the past, think of white-collar crimes as not being that big of a deal. And we just pay the money back. Not in Oklahoma. They take these crimes very seriously. They’re going to include jail time. And it’s important for people to understand that. You know? Besides taking of money and a possible little personal items, we can take all kinds of things.
We’ve got larceny of an automobile. A lot of people call it grand theft auto. Okay? So, grand theft auto in Oklahoma is larceny of an automobile. It carries up to 20 years in the Department of Corrections. People don’t know that. Right?
We have other specific statutes dealing with larceny. One of the big problems we have in Oklahoma, and if you have ever been a victim of this, you understand why it’s got its own statute – larceny of copper.
J: So, copper has this incredible value on the black market. You can sell copper back. One of the things that we have found is that thieves figured that out. And they would break into places, buildings, a lot of times air-conditioners. So, now people lock up their air-conditioning unit. And that’s to keep people from getting in and stripping the copper. The street value of copper is very high. The problem is, the copper, as it was being stripped, didn’t have any real value of its own so it was petty larceny all the time. Right? And the legislators said, “No more of this.” It’s got its own statute now. And it carries up to five years in prison. A year to five years in prison for stealing copper; or breaking in for the purposes of stealing copper. And that really has to do with the amount of damage that’s done to the equipment that the copper is stolen from.
J: And the court didn’t have the ability to order a person to replace the air-conditioning unit. They didn’t take the air-conditioning unit. So, now they’ve increased the punishment for that crime, and restitution is very serious. And we’ve got some judges here in Oklahoma County, and this is one of their least favorite crimes. They’re very open and honest about that. This is not something that you want on your record. It really is frowned upon because of the damage that stealing copper does.
We have charges in Oklahoma for larceny of dogs. Stealing a dog is different than stealing an iPad. It carries up to five years in prison, up to $5000 fine. We’ve got larceny of horses and cows, which we would understand. Carries up to 10 years. Different than horses and cows, we have our own specific statute for larceny of exotic livestock.
B: Exotic livestock?
J: Exotic livestock. Carries up to 10 years in the Department of Corrections, up to a $20,000 fine. So, the taking something of someone else’s is really incredibly frowned upon. So, many people think white-collar crimes aren’t that big of a deal. I don’t know many people who love a thief. Right? Something I’ve repeatedly said over and over and over again is, I can understand and justify pretty much every criminal action that you could put in front of me – almost without fail. Of course, there are some shockingly horrible ones that I would not want to be on the other side of that bet. But, nobody likes a thief.
J: And why is that important today on this podcast? Because it’s hard to put you in front of 12 members of the jury. Knowing that each one of those people have had something taken from them at some point.
J: I have never heard of a jury where the judge asked, “Have you ever been the victim of a crime?” And not every single one of the jurors didn’t raise their hands and say, “My house was broken into,” or “My car was broken into,” or, “I was pickpocketed,” or something to that effect. That’s problematic because the people who have been victims of these crimes remember 1) what a pain in the butt it was to get their life back in order, and 2) they’re going to be casting judgment.
So, might not feel like a big deal, but I would tell the listeners like I tell all my clients, my nieces, my nephews, and anybody who will listen if you’re not engaged in behavior that you could do in front of a jury, a judge, and the public, you probably ought not be doing it. Even though they’re misdemeanors, they are highly offensive kinds of misdemeanors.
And the stores, you know? The Walmarts, and the Walgreens, and the Targets, and all that, have big lobbying agencies, and they’ve gone to a lot of trouble to enhance the punishment of even shoplifting. You know? What’s the harm in taking a lip gloss from Walmart? Like Walmart’s going to miss that $1.96. Well, Walmart says we do miss that $1.96. And because of the cost of that, it increases in our cost of security, we have to hire new employees. It’s going to increase the cost of that $1.96 lip gloss. It’s now going to be $2.96.
So, as much as it doesn’t seem, on its face, when you talk about larceny, to be all that offensive, it’s really treated pretty harshly. And people need to think about, you know, their actions when we’re dealing with this.
We have larceny from a person which is different than robbery. We have larceny of a house. People ask how is larceny of a house different than burglary in first-degree? Well, if I have a party, and I invite you to my house, but I did not invite you to take my iPhone or my iPad or my computer, but you’re an invitee in my home, and someone take something out the house – that’s larceny from a house. That is a felony in the state of Oklahoma. And it’s going to be prosecuted heavily. Why? Same reason – nobody likes a thief. Couple on top of that the idea of “a man’s home is his castle” and our laws and our legislature allows us to defend our home and our castle in Oklahoma with lethal force. Then we have to think about that before we’re engaged in picking up something that doesn’t belong to you. Keep your sticky fingers to yourself.
What happens when we have clients who are charged with these things and they’re guilty? What can we do to help them? It’s always the thing I think about it. If my client comes in, and what if they can prove them guilty? What can we do to help them? Because just going in and pleading them is never something that the excites me.
J: Some of the things we do, is we can, if we’re stealing for need, we can put you in a place that can sustain those needs. There’s absolutely no reason that you should be taking food to feed your children. There are a lot of places in Oklahoma City. I can help direct you to those. Those are clearly mitigating circumstances that I can work with.
If it’s something other than that, then we have to find out what’s going on with you. If you’re guilty of this, and it wasn’t because of a necessity, then what the heck are we doing? Do we enjoy the rush? And the answer to that oftentimes is “yes”. A lot of times what I see with clients for shoplifting, and larceny charges, and larceny from a retailer charges, is just entitlement. You know? For whatever reason, I just didn’t want to pay for it, and I was just going to see what happened. And you see that a lot. They’ve got the money in their pocket. And prosecutors and judges and jurors always want that question asked. If you’ve got the money, then why? And if we can’t answer that question. If you were incapable of answering that question for me at our first setting, then part of my job is to help you figure out why. Maybe we need to get into some classes. Maybe we need to go to a counselor and did a little bit deeper.
Because I understand how it happens. It’s not a crime of the century. But, oftentimes, it’s treated that way. So, I need to be able to help identify what’s going on with you, so that 1) we don’t find ourselves in that position again, and 2) hopefully I can mitigate those circumstances for the judge. Right?
A lot of times I see teenagers, and, “My parents wouldn’t buy this for me, and all my friends had it.” They just don’t know how to deal with that kind of peer pressure. There are things we can do for that. You know? Even if it’s more than just a swift kick in the butt. But maybe some counseling. Maybe we talk to them about the differences between right and wrong. A lot of times what I find is my client’s lack parenting at home. You know? Nobody’s really taught them the morality behind it. There’s a lot of people that believe that taking from a company isn’t really “taking”. The law just flat disagrees with that. So, part of it is figuring out why we did it. And the next part is how do we make them whole again. Do we have the merchandise? Can we bring it back? If it’s something we took from a person, have we pawned that merchandise? Where did we pawn it? Can we help get it back?
A lot of it is redeeming ourselves. Not just by paying restitution, but by helping the person who is wronged become whole again. That’s a lot of what we do as well. And if we can get some of these issues resolved, there’s a strong likelihood we can help you avoid jail time, and hopefully even avoid a conviction
J: Just because you did it doesn’t mean you have to go to jail. And just because you’re guilty doesn’t mean you need to be convicted. There are lots and lots of other options out there, but for me to be able to help you’ve got to get in and talk to us. And the earlier in the process that you do it, the sooner you’re charged with larceny in Oklahoma City, the sooner you need to get yourself into an Oklahoma City larceny lawyer.
B: Good. All right. You’ve been speaking with Oklahoma City larceny defense attorney Jacqui Ford. Join us for our next edition of Your Best Defense podcast.