Law School Case Brief
People v. Brown - 105 Cal. 66, 38 P. 518 (1894)
If the person accused of larceny did not intend to deprive the owner of his property permanently, there is no felonious intent and his acts constitute but a trespass.
Defendant John Brown, who was 17 years old at the time, was charged with larceny after taking a child's bicycle in retaliation for the child's behavior toward him. The information alleged that there was intent to commit grand larceny. Brown claimed that he only intended to keep the bicycle a few days and then return it. At trial in California state court, the judge instructed the jury as to the felonious intent required for larceny. Brown was convicted. On appeal, Brown claimed that the trial court's jury instruction was erroneous.
Was Brown's conviction for larceny proper?
The state supreme court held that to be convicted of larceny, the felonious intent of the accused must be to deprive the owner of his property permanently. Because Brown did not intend to keep the bicycle permanently, he did not have the requisite intent. The trial court's jury instruction was erroneous, and thus Brown's conviction was reversed and a new trial was ordered.
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