New York Larceny Attorney
“Larceny” is the name New York law gives to theft-related crimes. The elements of Larceny are:
- Knowingly and intentionally;
- Taking property (tangible or intangible);
- That belongs to another; and
- For an extended period of time, or permanently
Depending on the type of property taken, the circumstances of the taking and the value of the property, Larceny may be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Types of Larceny in New York
The general term “larceny” covers a variety of related crimes, carrying a range of penalties.
Petit Larceny, Penal Law Section 155.25, is often mistakenly called “petty larceny.” Though the meaning is essentially the same, the statute uses the Latin word “petit,” meaning “little.”
The New York Petit Larceny statute is very brief:
A person is guilty of Petit Larceny when he steals property.
If the property stolen is valued at $1,000 or less, the charge is a misdemeanor. This includes most incidences of shoplifting, which is the most common form of Petit Larceny in New York.
As a Class A misdemeanor, Petit Larceny carries a possible penalty of:
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 3 years of probation; or
- A split of up to 90 days in jail and either 2 or 3 years probation
In practice, however, first, second and even third offenders are rarely sentenced to jail for Petit Larceny. In fact, a prosecutor may offer an alternative to prosecution and conviction of the criminal offense. The two most common outcomes are:
- Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD): When a defendant successfully completes all terms associated with an ACD, the case is dismissed and sealed after 6 months. Some common terms include:
- Avoiding additional arrests
- Community service
- Disorderly Conduct: In the state of New York, disorderly conduct is a violation, not a crime. Thus, minor crimes are frequently resolved by offering plea bargain to disorderly conduct. In a Larceny case, community service will usually be required.
In New York, all wrongful taking crimes are classified as Larceny, which is defined in Penal Law Section 155.00. There is no separate statute for embezzlement, theft by deception, or extortion. In addition, unlike some other states, New York does not have a separate law regarding automobile theft.
Rather, each of these variations is charged as Larceny.
Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree
Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, Penal Law Section 155.30, is a class E felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison. There are many takings that can result in a charge of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree in New York, including:
- Taking property valued at more than $1,000;
- Taking property directly from a person;
- Taking a car or motorcycle;
- Taking of a debit or credit card; and
These specifics can have unexpected results in some cases. For example, taking an inexpensive purse or wallet would normally be charged as Petit Larceny, a misdemeanor. But, if that purse or wallet contains a credit or debit card, the crime becomes a felony.
Similarly, picking up an iPhone from a restaurant table while the owner is in the bathroom is typically Petit Larceny, charged as a misdemeanor. But, taking that same phone from the owner’s back pocket when he or she is not looking is a felony, Grand Larceny. And, taking it from him or her by force is Robbery, which is an even more serious crime.
Grand Larceny in the First, Second and Third Degrees
The degree associated with a Grand Larceny charge is most often related to the value of the property taken.
|Degree||Value of Property||Classification of Crime||Possible Prison Sentence|
|Grand Larceny in the Third Degree||More than $3,000 and up to $50,000||Class D felony||Up to 7 years|
|Grand Larceny in the|
|More than $50,00 and up to $1,000,000||Class C felony||Up to 15 years|
|Grand Larceny in the|
|More than $1,000,000||Class B felony||Up to 25 years|
In some cases, other factors impact the degree of a Larceny charge. For example, theft of the contents of an ATM machine is charged as Third Degree Grand Larceny, regardless of the value of the property. A single $20 bill wrongfully taken from an ATM is considered a class D felony.
Other Theft-Related Crimes
While the vast majority of theft-related crimes in New York are simply charged as Larceny, there are a few statutes covering specific related crimes.
Theft of Services in New York
Theft of Services covers incidents in which services offered for a fee are taken without paying. For example, when someone jumps the turnstile in the subway and rides without paying a fare, or hops out of a taxi cab at the end of the ride and runs away without paying, he or she has committed Theft of Services, defined in Penal Law Section 165.15(3).
Theft of Services also applies in some circumstances that are not strictly service-related, such as leaving a restaurant without paying for your meal, defined in Penal Law Section 165.15(2).
Theft of Services is a class A misdemeanor and carries a potential penalty of up to 1 year in jail. However, when the defendant has little or no criminal history, it is possible to negotiate a resolution that does not result in jail time or a criminal record.
Most often, that resolution will involve an ACD or Disorderly Conduct agreement as described above. These resolutions will often involve payment for the services or community service.
Criminal Possession of Stolen Property
Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (CPSP) is defined in New York as knowingly possessing stolen property without the intention to return that property to the rightful owner. CPSP is often charged along with Larceny.
However, where the District Attorney lacks evidence regarding the actual theft, but the defendant has been found in possession of the stolen property, CPSP may be the only charge.
Like Grand Larceny, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property may be charged in different degrees. Fifth Degree CPSP is the least serious, and is charged as a misdemeanor. First through Fourth Degrees track with degrees of Grand Larceny, based on the same dollar values.
Possession of Burglar’s Tools
Possession of Burglar’s Tools, Penal Law Section 140.35, is a Class A misdemeanor in New York. It is important to be aware that “burglar’s tools” is broadly defined under the law. While the term may bring to mind lock picks and glass cutters, a person arrested for Petit Larceny may be arrested for Possession of Burglar’s Tools if he or she is carrying implements that could be used for burglary, such as scissors or a foil-lined bag.