Auto taking and larceny
Auto taking is the criminal act of stealing or attempting to steal a motor vehicle. It occurs when a person drives or takes a vehicle not his or her own, without the consent of the owner thereof, and with intent either to permanently or temporarily deprive the owner thereof of his or her title to or possession of the vehicle, whether with or without the intent to steal the vehicle (California Vehicle Code, Section 10851). Several types of auto taking are generally identified, such as theft, joyriding, carjacking, and fraud.
Auto taking can be broken down into several elements. The first is the actual taking of a car that can be performed by breaking into a car, towing, taking an unattended vehicle with the keys visible, taking a vehicle by force, or illegal acquisition via fraud. The second is the absence of the owners consent, because if a perpetrator has permission, it cannot be considered an offense. Exceptions include the cases when a perpetrator believes and can prove that they have lawful authority to take the vehicle, or that the owner would have given them permission in the circumstances of the offense. The third is the motive behind the crime, which can be to either permanently or temporarily deprive the owner of their possession of the vehicle with the intention of driving it for some period of time, stealing, or selling it.
Auto taking is different from larceny, which is a crime involving the unlawful taking or theft of another persons property. Larceny is performed without the consent of the owner and with the intent to permanently deprive them of their property. While auto taking may be intended to temporarily take possession of the vehicle (for example, for joyriding), larceny always aims to take permanent possession of an object. While the object of auto taking is always a vehicle, larceny can be directed to any item of a persons private property.
Hal and Ethers case
In Hal and Esthers case, their reciprocate hostility towards each other resulted in both of them performing actions that can be considered as violations of the law. Hal took and hid Esthers bicycle, and later licked her ice cream left in the fridge in the student lounge. with an unloaded gun and took his textbooks, telling him that she will return them if he leaves her and his wife Mary alone. Considered from a legal point of view, these actions can be regarded as offenses against person and property.
Hal has been accused of illegal behavior in two incidents. The first occurred when Hal took Esthers bicycle, rode it a few blocks, and left it behind a bush. This is a crime that cannot be classified as either larceny or robbery. First, it was not intended to take permanent possession of Ethers vehicle, which is a part of the definitions of both larceny and robbery. Second, the bicycle was not taken by force, threat of force, or by putting a victim in fear, which are the characteristics of a robbery. Third, the incident did not involve a motor vehicle, and, therefore, cannot be regarded as auto taking. It is somewhat similar to the definition of the bicycle threat with the purpose of joyriding, apart from the intention of the perpetrator, which was not entertainment but revenge. As a result of Hals actions, Esther was deprived of her possession of the bicycle for a week, and it being hidden on the street could lead to it being stolen by some other perpetrator. Therefore, Hal has committed a crime, which can be classified as a minor offense against property.
The second incident involves Hal taking Esthers ice cream from the fridge, licking it, and putting it back. It also cannot be classified as either larceny or robbery. Hal did not steal the ice cream and had no intention of taking permanent possession of it. He also did not use force or threats to obtain the ice cream and returned it to the place where he took it from. On the other hand, Hal violated the integrity of the ice cream pot and damaged it by licking it without the owners consent. These actions can be classified as vandalism, which is a criminal offense involving deliberate destruction or damage to public or private property. However, the scale of the offense and the damage incurred is so miscellaneous that do not constitute a criminal case.
Esthers actions are more complicated and nuanced in their nature. Being angry at Hal, she took a handgun and threatened Hals chicken with it, took Hals textbooks, and told him that she would return them if he leaves her and his wife alone. The first point of interest here is Ethers possession and carrying of a gun. It is unclear from the description of the case whether she had permission to own and carry a gun or not, and it should be investigated. If not, it can be regarded as a serious offense, unless she cannot prove that she was under significant threat resulting from Hals actions towards her. It should also be taken into consideration that the firearm was not loaded, which can be considered as a mitigating circumstance.