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Columbia Law School

1976

Criminal Law

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Metamorphosis Of Larceny, George P. Fletcher Jan 1976

The Metamorphosis Of Larceny, George P. Fletcher

Faculty Scholarship

To the modern lawyer, the rules of common law theft offenses do not seem ordered by any coherent principle. In this Article, however, Professor Fletcher shows that the common law of larceny can be understood in terms of two structural principles, possessorial immunity and manifest criminality. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as the modern style of legal thought evolved, first commentators and then courts lost their ability to understand these principles and came to rely on intent as the central element of criminal liability. As a result of this transformation, Professor Fletcher argues, the range of circumstances that can ...