New York Grand Larceny Defenses

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Under N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.15, the following are affirmative defenses to a larceny prosecution:

  • In a case where the larceny charge involves trespassory taking or embezzlement, it is an affirmative defense that the property was taken under a good faith belief of having the right to take it,
  • In a case where the larceny charge involves extortion, it is an affirmative defense that the accused reasonably believed that the victim's wrongdoing potentially would cause the victim to face criminal charges, and the purpose of the accused's threats were to force the victim to make good the wrong that could result in such criminal charges.

The New York Penal Code defines larceny as stealing another person's property. The property that is stolen can be money, real property, personal property, computer data, gas, electricity or almost any other thing of value. The value of the property stolen is one of the determining factors as to whether the criminal charge will be petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor, or grand larceny, which is a felony. Furthermore, if the charge is grand larceny, the value of the property is also one of the determining factors as to which degree of grand larceny the charge will.

Petit larceny is a Class A misdemeanor. If the value of the property stolen is $1,000 or less, then you will be charged with petit larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.25. In all other cases the charge will be a felony grand larceny charge. The exceptions to this general rule are where the property is of a particular type that even if the value of the property is less than $1,000, the legislature has determined that the theft is serious enough to merit a felony charge. The types of property include:

  • Property that is a public record,
  • Property that is secret scientific material,
  • Property that is a credit or debit card,
  • Property that is a firearm,
  • Property that was taken from someone's person,
  • Property that was acquired by extortion,
  • Property that is a vehicle and has a value over $100,
  • Certain types of religious documents with a value of at least $100,
  • Property that is used to steal telephone service, or
  • Property that is the type of ammonia used to make methamphetamine

These circumstances will automatically make the theft grand larceny in the fourth degree at a minimum. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30. However, if the value of the property is over $3,000, but less than $50,000, the charge will be grand larceny in the third degree. If you steal from an ATM machine or steal an ATM machine, the charge will automatically be at least grand larceny in the third degree. However, if you have already been convicted of larceny involving an ATM machine, you may face the more serious charge of aggravated grand larceny of an automatic teller machine. This is a Class C felony that carries a possible sentence of up to 15 years in prison. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.43

The New York Penal Code has a very specific definition of the term "property" as used in the grand larceny statute. Property can mean practically anything including money, personal property, real property, computer data, computer program, evidence of debt or contract, gas, water, electricity, or any other thing of value. If the theft involves certain types of property such as a credit or debit card, fireman, secret scientific material, or vehicle, the charge will be larceny in the fourth degree even if such property has a value of less than $1,000. If the property is a vehicle, the vehicle must have a value of more than $100. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30(1).

Thus, the assessed value of the stolen property may be critical in determine the charge you face. The prosecutor will seek to assess the highest possible value so that he or she can charge you with a more serious crime. However, the Penal Code states how the value of stolen property must be determined. It is the market value of the property at the time and place of the theft. In the alternative, the value will be based on its replacement cost. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.20

Grand larceny in the third degree is a Class D felony. The sentence can range from probation to jail time to prison. The maximum prison sentence is up to 7 years. However, there is no mandatory prison sentence for first time offenders. This means that even though you could be sentenced to up to 7 years, if you do not have a criminal record you could be sentenced to probation without any jail or prison time. However, if you have been convicted of a felony within the last 10 years, you will be subject to mandatory minimum sentencing if convicted for grand larceny in the third degree. The minimum sentence ranges from 2-4 years in prison.

If you have been charged with grand larceny in the third degree, or any other theft crime, you could be faced with having to spend several years in prison. To ensure that you have the best defense given the circumstances of your case is to contact an experienced New York grand larceny defenses lawyer right away. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with serious felonies such as grand larceny, burglary, robbery, and possession of stolen property. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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