Circuit Court LC No. 16-004361-FH
Before: Markey, P.J., and Hoekstra and Ronayne Krause, JJ.
a jury trial, defendant appeals as of right from her
conviction of larceny in a building, MCL 750.360. For the
reasons explained in this opinion, we affirm.
April 12, 2016, defendant and the victim were playing slot
machines next to each other at the Odawa Casino in Petoskey,
Michigan. When the victim left her slot machine to use the
restroom, defendant took the victim's TITO ticket
(hereafter, "TITO") out of the slot machine that
the victim had been playing. While the victim was on her way
to the restroom, she realized that she had not retrieved her
TITO. The victim returned to the slot machine and asked
defendant if she had seen the ticket, and defendant responded
that she had not.
victim reported the missing TITO to a security guard. Video
footage from the casino showed defendant taking the TITO
ticket, and a police officer was called to investigate the
incident. When speaking to the police, defendant initially
denied that she had taken the TITO, but she then admitted
doing so after the officer informed defendant of the
trial, defendant did not dispute having taken the TITO;
rather, she testified that she believed that the TITO had
been abandoned. According to defendant, her belief was rooted
in her prior experiences, having discussed it with casino
staff, and based on one instance in which staff prevented her
from retrieving her own TITO after she momentarily left her
slot machine. A jury convicted defendant of larceny in a
building. Defendant now appeals as of right.
PROPERTY "OF ANOTHER"
first argues that she did not commit a larceny because the
TITO was not the property "of another."
Specifically, defendant maintains that the victim did not
have the right to possess the TITO as against defendant
because the victim abandoned or, at a minimum,
"lost" the TITO. Because the TITO was lost or
abandoned, defendant maintains that she-"or anyone else
that sat down at that slot machine and played"-had the
right to possess the TITO.
of statutory interpretation and issues relating to the
sufficiency of the evidence are reviewed de novo. People
v Cline, 276 Mich.App. 634, 642; 741 N.W.2d 563 (2007).
Defendant was convicted of larceny in a building under MCL
750.360. Because the statute does not define the term
"larceny, " it is afforded its common law meaning.
People v March, 499 Mich. 389, 399; 886 N.W.2d 396
(2016). Based on the common law understanding of larceny, the
elements of larceny in a building are: (1) a trespassory
taking (2) within the confines of a building and (3) the
carrying away (4) of the personal property (5) of another (6)
with intent to steal that property. Id. at 401-402.
Defendant's argument implicates the "of
purposes of the "of another" requirement,
"possession, and not title ownership is the
determinative requirement in larceny crimes."
Id. at 408. Specifically, property "of
another" "is any property in which
'another' individual holds the right to possess as
against the defendant at the time of the taking."
Id. at 414. Conversely, "if the defendant had
the right to possess the property as against the complainant
at the time of the taking, no larceny could occur."
Id. at 403.
To determine whether "another" had . . . rightful
possession, courts must examine the respective rights to the
property. This examination requires courts to determine both
the rights of all relevant individuals to the property and
whether any of those individuals held a right to possess the
property as against the defendant. To undertake this
examination, courts should consult pertinent statutes,
ordinances, contracts, caselaw, and the like that give rise
to the individuals' rights and define the relationship
between those rights . . . . [Id.]
case, the victim using the slot machine had actual possession
of the TITO until she walked away from the machine. According
to the victim's testimony, as she walked to the bathroom,
she realized that she had left her ticket behind and, when
the victim saw her daughter-in-law, she told her that she had
"lost" the ticket. But, within 4 minutes, the
victim returned to the slot machine with her daughter-in-law
to look for the ticket. The mere fact that the victim
momentarily walked away from the machine does not establish
that the victim gave up possession of the TITO. That is,
possession can be either actual or constructive, and it can
be concluded from the evidence that the victim retained the
power and intention to exercise dominion or control over the
TITO. Id. at 415. Moreover, insofar as defendant
emphasizes the victim's characterization of the TITO as
"lost, " as between the owner of lost property and
the individual who finds the item, the owner of the property
has the right to possession of the item. See MCL 434.22(1);
MCL 434.24; Wood v Pierson, 45 Mich. 313, 317; 7
N.W. 888 (1881). Indeed, the finder of lost or misplaced
property can be guilty of larceny when he or she takes found
property with the intent to steal. See People v
Harmon, 217 Mich. 11, 13, 18; 185 N.W. 679 (1921); see
also 50 Am Jur 2d Larceny § 52. In short, while
defendant claims that the TITO was abandoned, the evidence
supports the conclusion ...