Brief Fact Summary. The Appellants, Mr. and Mrs. Tluchak (Appellants), filed separate appeals for larceny convictions. The case arose out of a real estate transaction, whereby the Appellants sold their farm to the prosecutor and his wife.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An individual in lawful possession of the goods or money of another cannot commit larceny by converting them to his own use because larceny is defined as a criminal trespass on the right of possession.
Issue. Do sellers who refuse or fail to deliver goods sold to their purchasers commit the crime of larceny?
Held. No. Judgment and sentences reversed. Judge Reno delivered the opinion of the court. Assuming that the testimony in this case established a sale of the personal property by Appellants to the prosecutor and his wife, Appellants sold, but failed or refused to deliver the goods to the purchasers. The evidence showed that Appellants had possession of the goods and were allowed to retain possession without trick or artifice and without fraudulent intent to convert the goods. Title passed at the time of payment, but Appellants still had lawful possession at that time.
Discussion. Appellants may have been guilty of fraudulent conversion or larceny by bailee. This would be true under the theory that a vendor who retains possession of goods sold by him becomes constructively a bailee of the purchaser and is therefore criminally culpable for a failure to deliver the goods to the purchaser.