Response or Comment
The wrongful use of another's automobile, even though accompanied by a trespassory taking, cannot, if followed by a return to the owner or an abandonment, be easily brought within the definition of larceny at common law or under the ordinary larceny statutes, because of the requirement of intent to deprive the owner permanently of his property. Smith v. State, 146 S. W. 547; State v. Boggs (Iowa, 1917), 164 N. W. 759; McClain, Criminal Law, § 566. Of course, such intent, at the time of taking, might be found in spite of return or abandonment, though it is doubtful whether the bare circumstances stated above would constitute sufficient evidence of that intent to go to the jury. Rex v. Phillips, 2 East P. C. 662; Brennon v. Com., 169 Ky. 815; State v. Slingerland, 19 Nev. 135; State v. Davis, 38 N. J. L. 176; People v. Flynn, 7 Utah 378. As a matter of law, intent to abandon at a distance, as distinguished from intent to return, has been held to be sufficient, on the principle that reckless indifference to harmful consequences is equivalent, in law as well as in ethics, to a direct purpose to produce such consequences. State v. Davis, supra. See also the other cases last above cited. Reg. v. Prince, 13 Cox C. C. 138, and People v. Cummings, 123 Cal. 269. And, if this position be granted, such abandonment after a trespassory taking would make a case of larceny, on the theory of continuing trespass, even though, at the time of taking, the intent had been to return the property.
Durfee, Edgar N. "Joy Riding, Simple and Compound." Mich. L. Rev. 16 (1918): 260–2.