29 Nov 23

How Much Jail Time Can I Get for Federal Larceny?

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Last Updated on: 15th December 2023, 06:19 pm


How Much Jail Time Can I Get for Federal Larceny?

If you’ve been charged with federal larceny, you’re probably wondering how much time you could be facing behind bars. As a crime that involves stealing someone else’s property, larceny charges are taken very seriously by courts across the country. The penalties can be harsh, ranging from probation to years in federal prison depending on the details of your case.

In this article, we’ll break down the sentencing guidelines and laws around federal larceny to give you an idea of what you might realistically be facing. We’ll also discuss some of the key factors judges consider when determining appropriate punishment. Let’s dive in!

Federal Larceny Laws and Classification

There’s no single federal larceny statute. Instead, charges fall under various sections of Chapter 31 in Title 18 of the US Code. The main categories include:

  • Theft of public money, property or records
  • Theft from interstate or foreign shipments
  • Robbery involving controlled substances
  • Theft from lending, credit, and insurance institutions
  • Theft of major artwork

Penalties vary widely based on the type of larceny involved. In general though, federal larceny crimes fall into one of three categories:

  1. Felonies punishable by more than one year in prison
  2. Misdemeanors punishable by one year or less in prison
  3. “Petty offenses” punishable by six months or less in prison

Where your charges specifically fall in this spectrum makes a major difference in how much time you’ll serve.

Sentencing Guidelines

While judges have significant discretion, most federal sentences are guided by the US Sentencing Commission Guidelines. For larceny offenses, sentences are calculated using Section 2B1.1.

Under these rules, the main factors that influence sentence length are:

  • Loss Amount – Stealing more money/property generally leads to longer sentences
  • Your Criminal History – Extensive records mean harsher punishment
  • Role in the Offense – Were you an organizer or just a participant?
  • Use of Sophisticated Means – Planning or targeting vulnerable victims can increase time
  • Acceptance of Responsibility – Admitting guilt and cooperating often reduces sentences

By plugging in offense details, the guidelines provide a sentencing “range” – for example, 12 to 18 months. However, judges have discretion to go above or below this if they feel it’s inappropriate.

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How Much Jail Time is Realistic?

It’s impossible to give an exact figure without knowing case specifics. But here’s a rough breakdown of potential federal larceny sentences:


If it’s a very minor first-time offense, you may get no jail and be sentenced to probation instead. This usually involves requirements like:

  • Reporting to a probation officer
  • Drug testing
  • Staying employed
  • No other violations of law

Failing probation terms can result in revocation and imprisonment.

0 to 6 Months

For simple petty larceny cases with low loss amounts and limited criminal history, you may get 0 to 6 months in prison. With “good behavior” credits, only about half this time is typically served.

6 Months to 1 Year

Misdemeanor larceny convictions often lead to 6 months to 1 year. Other factors like weapon use during theft can push sentences higher. With credits, at least 3 months would likely be served.

1 to 3 Years

Multi-year sentences are common for mid-level felony larceny convictions or cases with aggravating factors. Time served depends on the specifics, but could range from 6 months to the full length.

3 to 5+ Years

For high-loss major fraud/theft schemes, especially with criminal records, judges often issue long 3 to 5+ year sentences. Good behavior may only modestly reduce very lengthy prison stays.

In rare cases over $550 million with vulnerable victims, up to 20 years is possible but quite unlikely.

Other Consequences

Beyond jail time, those convicted of federal larceny face other penalties including:

  • Fines up to $250,000 for individuals, $500,000 for organizations
  • Restitution to pay back victims
  • Forfeiture of property obtained illegally
  • Loss of civil liberties like voting rights
  • Deportation for non-citizens

The impacts can be severe and last for years after any sentence is complete.

Getting Legal Help

As this overview shows, federal larceny jail time varies substantially based on case factors. With skilled legal help examining charges and evidence, many options may exist to reduce sentencing exposure.

If you or a loved one face accusations, don’t go it alone. Consult with a federal criminal defense lawyer right away about fighting the charges and minimizing any penalties. An experienced attorney can make all the difference.