Criminal Law, Pages 428–430

State v. Carswell

Supreme Court of North Carolina, 1978

Facts:

Defendant and one or two friends broke into an under-construction motel. They took an air conditioner out of the window, set it on the floor 4–6 inches away, and left the room, allegedly because it smelled bad. In the hallway, a guard stopped them and had the police called. The defendant probably also broke in earlier in the day and detached the air conditioner from the window.

Procedural History:

  • Defendant was convicted of breaking and entering and felonious larceny.

  • Court of appeals reversed the larceny conviction, finding that there was insufficient asportation, specifically taking.

Issue:

Did defendant moving the air conditioner to the floor constitute a taking and carrying away?

Rules:

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 429

    "A bare removal from the place in which he found the goods, though the thief does not quite make off with them, is a sufficient asportation, or carrying away."

  • LexisNexis IconWestLaw LogoGoogle Scholar LogoPage 429, Bottom

    This Court has defined "taking" in this context as the "severance of the goods from the possession of the owner." Thus, the accused must not only move the goods, but he must also have them in his possession, or under his control, even if only for an instant.

Reasoning:

Moving the air conditioner to the floor is clearly a "bare removal from from the place in which he found the goods." It also was sufficient to put the object briefly under the control of the defendant, severed from the owner's possession. Thus the taking and carrying away was satisfied.

Holding:

Yes, the moving the air conditioner constituted a taking and carrying away. Reversed and larceny judgment reinstated.


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