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New York City Larceny Lawyer

Larceny is just a fancy legalese term for “stealing” or “theft.” In New York City, there are many different types of theft with which a person may be charged. The nature of the larceny charge depends on the type of property taken, where or from whom it is taken, and the value of the property. If you have been accused of stealing another person’s property, speak with a New York City larceny lawyer from our firm. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman could help you prepare a defense that protects your reputation and freedom.

Definition of a Larceny Offense

New York Penal Law §155.00 provides specific definitions for various terms that are relevant to larceny charges and convictions in New York City. For example, NYPL §155.00(1) establishes that “property” as it pertains to this offense can be anything of value, including services, computer data or programs, and substances like gas or electricity that are usually provided for a fee.

Likewise, to “deprive” someone of property in the context of larceny entails withholding possession of that property from the original owner either permanently or for so long that most of the property’s economic value is lost. Additionally, a defendant does not have to keep stolen property themselves to be charged with this crime. Disposing of property so that no one can ever get it back still counts as “depriving” its original owner of it.

It is also important to understand that larceny does not necessarily have to involve someone directly stealing something of value from someone else. As per New York Penal Law §155.05, various other actions could constitute criminal theft. For instance, engaging in embezzlement of monetary funds, obtaining ownership of property through some fraudulent scheme, or maintaining possession of lost property despite knowing who the original owner is. In some cases, even issuing a bad check could count as larceny if it allows the defendant to knowingly gain something of value without providing any compensation to the original owner. A New York City lawyer from our firm could review an accused individual’s case to determine if their actions legally constitute larceny.

What is Petit Larceny?

The simplest form is Petit Larceny, New York Penal Law § 155.25. This crime has no specifications for the type of property or its value. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a one year in jail. Shoplifting would be an example of Petit Larceny. Often this crime is charged in conjunction with more serious theft crimes. Because this offense is the simplest of the larceny charges, can be the easiest to prove at trial. One of our attorneys in New York City could help someone facing petit larceny charges by collecting evidence that supports their defense.

What is Grand Larceny?

The second type of Larceny is Grand Larceny. In contrast to Petit Larceny, which is a broad statute, the type and value of the property stolen in these charges are specific. There are four degrees of this offense. At the most basic level is Grand Larceny in the fourth degree, New York Penal Law § 155.30. This crime covers many different types of theft. The most common types of Grand Larceny in the fourth degree include property that is stolen when:

  • The value of the property exceeds $1000;
  • The property consists of a credit or debit card;
  • The property, regardless of its nature or value is taken from the person of another;
  • The value of the property exceeds $100 and the property consists of a motor vehicle.

Grand Larceny in the fourth degree is a class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison. This charge applies in situations where expensive property ($1,000 or more) is stolen. It also applies when the property is taken directly from another person, such as from their pocket, handbag, or their hand. This charge is the least serious of all the felony theft charges, and because its requirements are still rather broad it is often charged in addition to a more serious crime. For example, in the majority of robbery cases, Grand Larceny in the fourth degree is also charged. Robbery requires the taking of property from another person with force. Although robbery, even in the lowest degree is a class D felony, punishable by up to seven years in prison, it is easier for the prosecution to prove this crime, because it does not require the element of force. Grand Larceny in the fourth degree is also applicable in a number of other situations including theft of property that consists of:

  • Public records, writing or instrument lawfully filed or deposited with a public servant or public office;
  • Secret scientific material;
  • Property, regardless of its nature of value, obtained by extortion;
  • One or more firearms, rifles or shotguns;
  • A scroll, religious vestment, vessel or other item comprising a display of religious symbols that has a value of at least $100 and is kept or used in connection with religious worship.

Grand Larceny in the third, second and first degrees are differentiated by the minimum value of the property stolen. Grand Larceny in the third degree, New York Penal Law § 155.35 requires that the property value exceed $3,000. This is a class D felony punishable for up to 7 years in prison. Grand Larceny in the second degree, New York Penal Law §155.40, requires that the property value exceed $50,000. This is a class C felony punishable for up to 15 years prison. Finally, Grand Larceny in the first degree, New York Penal Law § 155.45 requires that the property value exceed $1,000,000. This is a class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

In addition to the specificity requirement for the value of the property stolen in Grand Larceny in the third degree and second degree, there are other thefts that fall under these charges. Property stolen from an ATM machine also constitutes Grand Larceny in the third degree. Property obtained by extortion or threatening to cause future physical injury to another person, property damage or abuse of power by a public servant constitutes Grand Larceny in the second degree.

What are the Statutory Defenses to Larceny Allegations in New York City?

New York Penal Law §155.15 establishes two statutory defenses that could nullify these charges under specific circumstances. First, a person cannot be convicted for larceny through “trespassory taking or embezzlement” if they genuinely believed they had a lawful claim to the property in question. Second, a person cannot be convicted of larceny through extortion if they reasonably believed they were providing truthful information to the person they allegedly extorted, and the defendant’s good-faith intent was to encourage their alleged victim to right some wrong or take some other reasonable action. An attorney in New York City could determine how to build a defense for a particular larceny case.

Call a New York City Larceny Attorney Today

Larceny charges range from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class B felony – or the possibility of no time in jail to decades. Understanding the type of property involved and the value of the property can be confusing. It is important to hire a New York City larceny lawyer familiar with the statutory requirements of each of these charges in order to provide the best defense. If you have been charged with Petit or Grand Larceny, call today.

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