Brief Fact Summary.
Defendant Bell was convicted of petty larceny for the taking of personal property belonging to G.B. White.
Synopsis of Rule of Law.
Larceny is defined as the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal property of another person with the intent to deprive the owner of that personal property permanently.
Defendant Bell ventured onto the land of one G.B. White in order to dig up sweet potatoes and heads of cabbage that were located on White’s land. Bell proceeded to dig up the sweet potatoes and cabbage and remove it from White’s property. Subsequently, Bell was convicted of petty larceny for removing the vegetables and he appealed, arguing the trial court gave an improper definition of larceny to the jury.
Whether Bell can be guilty of larceny for severing the vegetables from the land and taking them away in one continuous act?
No, the severing and carrying away of the vegetables is considered a continuous act. Thus, Bell can only be guilty of trespass but not larceny.
When the personal property is something such as vegetables, which requires severance from land, larceny will occur when the severance of the vegetables is a separate and distinct act from the carrying away of the personal property. Here, the vegetables were severed from the land and carried away in one continuous act. Bell removed the vegetables from the land immediately after severing them, which constitutes one continuous act. Accordingly, Bell can only be guilty of trespass and his larceny conviction is reversed.