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Detroit Legal Blog

What is Larceny by Conversion in Michigan?

Nov 09, 2016, by Maurice Davis in Legal Blog, Theft

Larceny by conversion is a theft that is accomplished by cheating someone out of their property or possessions. Depending on the value of the things you allegedly stole, you could face significant time in prison and crippling fines.

Fortunately, you may be able to avoid these criminal penalties by acting fast and retaining the services of a reputable Detroit theft by conversion attorney at Davis Law Group.

What Does Larceny or Theft by Conversion Mean?

Larceny is an old-fashioned name for theft that comes from England centuries ago. Over time, most states–and even the United Kingdom – have abolished the crime of larceny and divided it into the crimes of theft, burglary, and robbery. Michigan remains one of the few states to call theft “larceny.”

Defining Conversion

A conversion is also a concept originating in England. It refers to any voluntary action you take towards an item of property that interferes with the rights of its owner. Usually, this means taking someone’s property as your own. For example, you find someone’s wallet. Instead of returning it to the owner, you convert the wallet for your use.

Michigan Penal Code Regarding Larceny or Theft by Conversion

The language used to describe larceny or theft by conversion, as defined in Michigan Penal Code section 750.362, is particularly cryptic, even by legal standards:

“Any person to whom any money, goods or other property, which may be the subject of larceny, shall have been delivered, who shall embezzle or fraudulently convert to his own use, or shall secrete with the intent to embezzle, or fraudulently use such goods, money or other property, or any part thereof, shall be deemed by so doing to have committed the crime of larceny.”?

In plain language, the crime of larceny or theft by conversion occurs when:

  • You take or gain possession of someone’s property
  • The property belongs to someone else
  • You intend to defraud or cheat the owner out of the property
  • The owner does not consent to your possession or use of the property

For example, a car dealership consents that you take a test drive but not permanently keep the vehicle.

What Is the Penalty for Larceny in Michigan?

The penalty for larceny in Michigan depends on the value of the property you allegedly took or the number of prior larceny convictions you might have.

More than $20,000 or 2 Prior Convictions for Larceny

If you have been accused of theft by conversion of more than $20,000 or if you have two or more prior larceny convictions, you face felony charges. Felonies in Michigan carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. You could also pay a fine of up to $15,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.

Between $1,000 and $20,000 or 1 Prior Conviction for Larceny

Theft by conversion valued between $1,000 and $20,000 or repeated offenses is a felony. This crime is punishable by up to five years in prison. You could also pay fines of up to $10,000 or three times the value of the stolen property.

Between $200 and $1,000 or 1 Prior Conviction for Larceny Involving Less Than $200

If you have a prior conviction for larceny for less than $200 and are accused of theft by conversion of any amount between $200 and $1,000, you face misdemeanor charges. The penalty is up to one year in jail, plus a $2,000 fine or three times the value of the stolen property.

Theft Less Than $200

You will face misdemeanor charges for larceny of property that is worth less than $200. Theft by conversion worth less than $200 is a misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail. You’ll also be ordered to pay fines of up to $500 or three times the value of the stolen property.

In determining your sentence under the Michigan criminal process, the court may add up all of the property you took over the course of one year.

Additional Penalties for Larceny in Michigan

The collateral consequences you’ll face are also severe.

As a convicted criminal, you could:

  • Ruin your personal or professional reputation
  • Face child custody issues
  • Have trouble with immigration or citizenship
  • Lose your professional license in certain occupations
  • Find it challenging to find a good job or affordable housing

Michigan Theft by Conversion Defenses

Theft by conversion is not a crime to be taken lightly. You must get help defending yourself so you can get back to your life. For the state to obtain a conviction, they will need to be able to show that you knowingly took possession of someone else’s property without their consent.

Common defenses in a larceny case include:

  • Approval or consent of the property owner
  • Abandonment of property by the property owner
  • Property identification issues
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Mistake of fact
  • Issues with the statute of limitations
  • Police misconduct
  • Illegal search and seizure

There may be several defenses that apply to your case.

Call Davis Law Group Today

Larceny might not be a commonly used phrase, but it’s a heavily prosecuted crime in Michigan. Get help from a skilled and experienced Detroit criminal defense lawyer to defend your larceny case. Do not answer questions from the police or plead guilty to any crime before you consult a lawyer.

Call the Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation of your case. Or fill out our quick contact form, and we will reach out to discuss your theft by conversion charges.