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The difference between theft and larceny of an automobile

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Felonies

Auto theft, or larceny of an automobile, is a serious offense in Oklahoma that can lead to significant legal consequences. It is important to understand the differences between these crimes.

Auto theft in Oklahoma involves the unlawful taking of someone’s vehicle with the intent to deprive the owner of their property. This encompasses various scenarios, from stealing a car to driving a vehicle without the owner’s consent. While both involve the unauthorized taking of another’s property, the circumstances and legal consequences differ.

Theft of an automobile

The term “theft” serves as an umbrella for various criminal activities involving unlawfully taking another person’s belongings. In the context of automobiles, theft encompasses a range of actions, from taking a vehicle without permission to temporarily using it without the owner’s consent.

Larceny of an automobile

However, larceny of an automobile refers to a more specific crime. It implies a deliberate act of theft targeting a vehicle. It is often categorized based on the value of the stolen property. The severity of the offense may increase if the value of the stolen automobile exceeds a certain threshold.


One crucial element that sets larceny apart is the presence of intent. The perpetrator must intend to permanently take the vehicle from its owner. This aspect of intent distinguishes larceny from other forms of theft.


The penalties for auto theft vary based on the circumstances of the crime. If convicted, individuals may face fines, probation or imprisonment. The Oklahoma legislature recently passed a law reducing the potential sentence for first-time offenders to 0-7 years. The severity of the punishment depends on several factors — the value of the vehicle, any prior convictions and the presence of aggravating factors.

Understanding the difference between theft and larceny of an automobile is essential for navigating charges.