Larceny, or theft, is a term that’s used several different ways in the judicial system. Under criminal law, larceny is a crime that can be punished with fines and jail time. In civil law, however, larceny cases are not about sending anyone to jail. They are about recovering the cost of property that was stolen. If you are the victim of a theft, a civil larceny suit can help you get the money you need to replace what was taken.
Civil larceny suits are used in many types of cases:
- Stolen car
- Car break-ins
- Home break-ins
A similar process can be used for property that was destroyed by someone else’s criminal actions, such as in an arson case, or in diminished value property cases.
How do I prove a larceny suit?
A civil larceny case is easier to prove than a criminal larceny case. Criminal cases require that the charge be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”—a very high standard to meet. Civil cases only require that your case be proven “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This simply means that, when all the evidence is considered, it seems more likely than not that the other party is liable for your loss.
If the person who stole from you has already been convicted of theft in a criminal case, it’s very easy to prove your larceny suit. The conviction itself, and all the evidence from their criminal case, counts as evidence in your lawsuit.
If the person has not yet been convicted, or managed to avoid conviction altogether, you can still sue them for your losses. It’s not uncommon for thieves to get a plea deal or get off on a technicality in their criminal case and still be found liable in the civil case.
What costs can I recover in a larceny lawsuit?
It depends on what is missing and where it’s gone. For example:
- If your stolen property was returned to you in the same condition that you lost it, you likely won’t be awarded any money at all
- If the property was returned damaged, you can be awarded the money you need to repair or replace it
- If the property has not been recovered, or is no longer usable, you can get the full cost of buying new, equivalent belongings
- If the property was older or well used, you are not required to buy an old/secondhand replacement. You are entitled to the cost of buying a new, equivalent replacement.
Notably, items that carried significant personal value aren’t usually treated any differently by the court. For example, if your great-grandmother’s engagement ring is stolen, you are entitled to the cost of a similar diamond ring, but not necessarily any extra money for the loss of an heirloom. On the other hand, if an item was a valuable antique, you are entitled to its full cost as a collector’s item.
Have you been injured or stolen from? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.