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A Better Partnership
August 05, 2013

MSC Opinion: Larceny-from-the-person statute does not apply to shoplifting observed by loss-prevention employee

In People v. Smith-Anthony, the defendant had placed a perfume set into one of her bags in view of a nearby store loss-prevention officer.  She was confronted and apprehended after leaving the store and, among other charges, the jury was instructed on larceny-from-the-person.  The defendant was convicted of that offense.  An atypical majority of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Young along with Justices Viviano, McCormack and Cavanaugh, affirmed the Court of Appeals reversal of that conviction.  The majority held that the statute requires that the stolen property be taken from the physical presence (or immediate proximity) of the victim or, in rare cases, the statue can apply where the defendant uses force to create space between the victim and their property.  In this case, the immediate presence/proximity requirement was not satisfied.  The remainder of the Court dissented, arguing that such a degree of presence/proximity has never been required and is inconsistent with the established common-law understanding of "from the person."

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