Larceny charges by trick include a theft that took place because of a deception perpetrated by the person that illegally obtained possession of property. Larceny by trick can occur even when the victim intends to turn over possession rights of said property.
For example, a student may ask their parents for money for tuition. Meanwhile the child has decided not to continue their education and instead backpacks across Europe using that money for expenses. That child would be found guilty of larceny charges based on theft by trick.
Even though the parents willingly transferred the money to the child, they did so with the belief that the money had a certain purpose.
If the child knew at the time, that they would be using the money for another purpose, they could face larceny charges. If, however, the child takes the money with the belief that they will be returning to college but later does not return, the larceny charge would be less likely. No theft has taken place if the child returns the money to the parents’ possession before it was used for any false purpose.
Larceny by trick does not include the title to property. As with other crimes of larceny, the perpetrator receives only possession of the property, not ownership. In the case of the student that borrows money after tricking their parents into believing it was for a false purpose, the child only possesses the money, they do not own it.
Larceny charges by trick would apply if the child agreed to pay the money back or if possession of that money was suppose to result in some event, such as graduation. In other words, the money is still the parents’ property even though the child takes possession of the money to use it for some purpose.
A popular example that helps distinguish larceny by trick from crimes of false pretense is a thief that steals a car after a test drive. At no time has the title of that vehicle changed hands. The thief has only taken possession of the vehicle and is, therefore, subject to larceny charges.
Theft by trick occurs frequently. In many cases, it is difficult to distinguish this crime from crimes of false pretense. In false pretense crimes, the actual title and ownership rights of a property are transferred due to the commission of fraudulent activity.
In theft by trick, the ownership of a property is not transferred. Possession of the property is acquired by tricking the owner into believing they are using that property for some purpose that is false and they could face larceny charges. In either case, the perpetrator is guilty of theft.