Law School Case Brief
State v. Jones - 369 N.C. 631, 800 S.E.2d 54 (2017)
A defendant is guilty of larceny if the State proves that he (a) took the property of another; (b) carried it away; (c) without the owner's consent; and (d) with the intent to deprive the owner of his property permanently.
Defendant Keyshawn Jones was overpaid because a payroll processor accidentally typed "$120,000" instead of "$1,200" into a payment processing system, resulting in a total payment (after deductions) of $118,729.49. The next morning, the payroll officer realized her error and tried to stop the transaction. She also told defendant, through his agent, about the error and requested that defendant not withdraw or transfer the excess funds from his account. The stop transaction did not succeed, however, and the deposit went through. As a result, $118,729.49 was deposited in defendant's State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) account. Although Jones was informed of the error and was asked not to remove the excess funds from his bank account, he made a series of withdrawals and transfers totaling $116,861.80. The Court of Appeals vacated Jones’ convictions for felonious larceny, finding that defendant had not committed a trespassory taking. The State filed a petition to the Supreme Court of North Carolina for discretionary review, which the Court granted.
Did the State produce sufficient evidence to support Jones’ convictions for three counts of felonious larceny?
The Court held that the State presented sufficient evidence that Jones took his employer's property by an act of trespass when he removed the excess funds the employer erroneously deposited into his credit union account with the intent to permanently deprive the employer of the property and without the employer's consent where the fact that Jones had removed the funds before a reversal could go through did not indicate that the employer lacked constructive possession of the funds in defendant's account, Jones had mere custody of the funds, not possession of them inasmuch as he was simply the recipient of funds that he knew were supposed to be returned in large part, and he "took" those funds when he removed them from his account through transfers and withdrawals.
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