Most of the country says it’s theft. New York calls it larceny. One way or another it’s stealing, and New York has dealt with it very simply. A person can be found guilty of larceny in New York when they wrongfully take, obtain or withhold property from its rightful owner with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. It can be stolen by trick or embezzlement, extortion, false pretenses or even by coming into possession of lost property.
All thefts in New York pivot on Articles 155 and 165 of the New York Penal Code. Consistent with statutes of other states, New York categorizes larceny as per the value of the property obtained. If you’re found guilty of stealing property valued in excess of $1,000, you’re guilty of grand larceny. Petit larceny involves property valued at $1,000 or less. That’s the lowest classification of theft in the state. As the value of the goods or services increases, so does the potential punishment, going from a misdemeanor with no more than 364 days in jail and a fine not to exceed $1,000 to a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors have an edge in charging larceny because they’re able to aggregate amounts somebody steals in amounts less than $1,000 if they’re stolen from several people or businesses. Those amounts can be consolidated into a single felony charge of criminal possession of stolen property. Even if a series of thefts had only one victim, the multiple thefts can be upgraded to a felony if the total value of the property exceeds $1,000. Charging is one thing. Proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is another, and the prosecutor has the burden of proof.
We’ve successfully raised many defenses to larceny cases over the years. A person can’t be found guilty of larceny if they intended to return what they took. They have to intend to permanently deprive the owner of that property. A person can’t be prosecuted for taking their own property either, nor can they be prosecuted with taking property if they have the lawful owner’s consent. Other defenses exist to petit or grand larceny, and we’ve also successfully raised those defenses on behalf of our clients.
As criminal defense attorneys, we’ve had our clients’ larceny charges dismissed long before a trial might have been necessary. Given the complications we’ve caused the prosecution with all of the defenses to larceny, we’ve also been instrumental in obtaining not guilty verdicts in those cases. On cases that were more difficult for our clients, we’ve been successful in getting charges reduced from felonies down to misdemeanors.
Criminal defense attorneys know that the value of personal property at the time that the owner was deprived of it isn’t easily ascertainable. They also know that it would take an expert opinion by a witness for the prosecution to attempt to establish a value, and that expert witnesses cost the state money. Trials with expert witnesses cost even more money. We can make the prosecution bend or break.
If you’ve been charged with larceny, you have the right to a trial by jury or a bench trial where the judge hears all of the evidence and determines guilt or innocence. You have the right to bring witnesses on your own behalf and cross examine any witnesses against you. You have the right to be presumed innocent of the charges against you unless the prosecution proves you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. You have the right to a fair trial. We exercise and protect all of those rights for our clients, and we hold the prosecution to its burden of proof.
If you’re charged with a criminal offense, call us and see a member of our criminal defense team right away. Don’t give any of your rights away. We’ll preserve and exercise those rights for you.