State v. Cohen

The Facts

Defendant charged with grand larceny.  Defendant owned a seal fur coat, which needed repair.  Her husband sought repairs through a man named Mellon and promised $50 in work and material owed.  Mellon delivered the coat, but defendant’s husband  did not agree with the alterations and repairs.  After multiple attempts, Mellon brought the coat to defendant’s home and demanded payments.  Defendant tried on the coat and thought it didn’t fit.  Defendant said she would take the coat back into her apartment and try it on to look in her long mirror.  She returned without the coat and Mellon demanded payment.  Defendant refused.  When authorities arrived defendant refused to say what she had done with the coat; and when the apartment was searched, authorities could not find it.

Procedural History

Convicted at trial.  Appeals.

The Issue

Can a defendant be guilty of stealing her own property?


“If personal property in the possession of one other than the general owner by virtue of some special right of title is taken from him by the general owner, such taking is larceny if it is done with the felonious intent of depriving such person of his rights or of charging him with the value of the property.”

The Holding

Yes.    “A person may be guilty of larceny of his own property, if taken from the possession of one who has a lien thereon under which possession may lawfully be retained until the lien is discharged.”  That Mellon gave the coat to her to see how it would fit does not absolve her of the lien.  Defendant’s taking of the coat to try it on possesses her of the “felonious intent of depriving Mellon of his lien and his right of possession until the lien was discharged.”


Conviction affirmed.


Larceny can be a crime against possessory interests.

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