Felonious intent is an essence of the crime of larceny.
Defendant was charged with grand theft under Cal. Penal Code § 487(1), after he took four wooden beams from a construction site. Defendant contended that he took them in the good faith belief, that the beams had been abandoned. The Municipal Court convicted him for petty theft. On appeal, the court reversed defendant's conviction because the trial court erroneously instructed the jury on the element of specific intent.
Did the trial court err in failing to instruct jury to consider specific intent as an element of the crime?
The court reversed defendant's conviction of petty larceny because the trial court's instruction to the jury, that it had to convict defendant if his good faith belief was not objectively reasonable, constituted reversible error. The court ruled that, absent the specific intent required to be proved as an element of the offense, defendant was entitled to an acquittal even if his good faith belief was objectively unreasonable.