Queens Grand Larceny

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Grand Larceny is one of several different types of theft charges under New York law. Larceny is defined as stealing the property of another person with the intent of depriving that person of such property. Larceny can be accomplished in several different ways including by trespassory taking, by trick, by embezzlement, by false pretenses, or by writing a check that bounces. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05. Grand larceny is considered a particularly serious type of larceny. There are several degrees of grand larceny, all of which are felonies. Because of this, the penalty for a grand larceny conviction can be up to 25 years in prison. Specific conditions must exist for a theft to rise to the level of grand larceny. Generally, larceny becomes grand larceny if the value of the stolen property is over $1,000. However, there are additional circumstances that will cause a theft to rise to the level of grand larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30. If the theft does not rise to the level of seriousness such that it is labeled as grand larceny, then the charge will be petit larceny, a misdemeanor. If you have been charged with grand larceny, or any other crime of theft, it is important to speak with an experienced Queens Grand Larceny Lawyer who will listen to the facts regarding the incident that lead to your arrest, and will aggressively defend you against the charges.

Grand Larceny Defined

Larceny has the general meaning of stealing. However, in order to understand what a larceny charge is, it is necessary to understand the legal definitions of the words that are used in the larceny statute to define larceny and grand larceny. The stealing of property means wrongful "taking, obtaining or withholding" or property. Taking is the act of seizing property from another person, while obtaining property is defined as causing the transfer of the legal interest in the property from the owner to another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2). Withholding means refusing to give property to its owner. Thus, in order to commit larceny it is not necessary to take the property from someone else. If you initially had the property lawfully, but then refused to return it, then you have wrongfully withheld the property. For an act to constitute larceny, when you take, obtain or withhold the property of another person, you must also have the intent to deprive the rightful owner of that property, or appropriate it for yourself.

The "owner" of property is the person or people who have the right of possession that is superior to any other person's. Co-owners' rights to possession are equal to each other's. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(1)

Property is defined as more than money or material possessions like televisions or computers. It also includes real estate, computer data, computer programs, or anything of value. Other examples of property includes gas, steam, water or electricity for which you are charged. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(5). Another type of property is scientific material. Scientific material can include any of a number types of materials developed in conjunction with a scientific inquiry. Examples include a sample, culture, document, drawing, device, evidence, micro-organism, or specimen. To be scientific material, such material cannot be available to anyone other than the rightful owners and it must afford its owners a competitive advantage over others. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(6).

An access device is a type of property that is related to telephone service. It is defined as a credit card number, electronic serial number, telephone calling card number or any type of personal identification number that can be used to obtain telephone service. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(7-c).

Property does not have to be a physical object or a type of information. A service can also be property that is the object of larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(8). A service can be some sort of labor, a computer service, transportation service, restaurant service or equipment service. In addition a service can also be utility service such as gas, electricity or water, as well as cable TV service, or telephone service. Examples of larceny based on a service include:

  • Not paying for your restaurant bill. This is commonly referred to as "dine and dash" or "eat and run."
  • Tampering with an electricity or gas meter so that the level of consumption is understated
  • Turnstile jumping or failing to pay a fare to ride public transportation.
  • Leaving a hotel without paying your bill
  • Diverting wifi internet connections

The New York Penal Code also lists other ways that larceny can be accomplished:

  • Lost Property. If you find property that you know is lost and decide to keep it, you can be charged with larceny if fail to make a reasonable effort to return it to the property's rightful owner. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2)(b)
  • Bad Check. If you pay for something with a check that bounces, you could be charged with larceny. A check you write is considered a bad check if you write it knowing that you do not have funds in the bank to cover it. N.Y. Pen. Law § 190.05. If you write a bad check in exchange for property or services, you have obtained the property or services without paying for it. In other words, you have stolen the property and can be charged with larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2)(c)
  • False promise. Obtain property by a false promise means that you deceived someone in order to obtain the property. You lied. In this instance you tell another person that if he or she gives you certain property, in exchange you will do a certain thing. However, when making that agreement, you had no intention of doing that thing. As a result, you obtain the property for free. You can be charged with larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2)(d)
  • Extortion. Obtaining property by extortion means making someone fearful that you will cause that person or someone else harm if that person does not give you the property. In other words, you threaten someone in order to obtain the property. Types of threats that could amount to extortion include:
    • Saying that you will cause someone physical injury
    • Saying that you will damage property
    • Saying that you will accuse another person of a crime
    • Saying that you will expose a secret that could subject someone to hatred, contempt or ridicule
    • Saying that you will cause a strike, boycott, or some other injurious collective labor group action
    • Saying that you will provide testimony or withhold testimony related to a legal claim
    • Saying that you will abuse your position as a public servant to adversely affect another person
    • Saying that you will do anything else that will not benefit you, but will harm the health, safety, business, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships of another person
Degrees of Grand Larceny Charge

There are 4 degrees of a grand larceny: grand larceny in the fourth degree, grand larceny in the third degree, grand larceny in the second degree, and grand larceny in the first degree. The 4 degrees of grand larceny are generally distinguished based on the value of the property or service stolen. However, there are other factors that impact the grand larceny charge that you will face including the type of property that was taken.

Grand larceny in the fourth degree is a Class E felony. It carries a possible prison sentence of up to 4 years in prison. To be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, the value of the property or service that you are accused of stealing must be more than $1,000 and less than $3,000. Regardless of the value, if the property stolen is a public record, scientific material, credit card, or debit card, you will be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree. If you steal from "the person" of another, you will be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree. Stealing from the person is typically what is commonly referred to as "pickpocketing." If you slide someone's wallet out of her purse, for example, even if the value of the wallet and its contents is less than $1,000, you will be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree. Otherwise, if you had not stolen from the person, because of the low value of the property, the charge would be petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Extortion is also grand larceny in the fourth degree, even if the value of the property stolen is less than $1,000. Unless the value is $100 or less, stealing a car is always a grand larceny. Stealing religious vestments, such as liturgical garments that have a value of more than $100, is also grand larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30

Grand larceny in the third degree is a Class D felony. It carries a possible prison sentence of up to 4 years in prison. To be charged with grand larceny in the third degree, the value of the property or service that you are accused of stealing must be at least $3,000 and less than $50,000. The theft of an ATM or its contents also brings a charge of grand larceny in the third degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.35. However, if are charge for the second time with stealing an ATM or its contents, instead of being charged with grand larceny in the second degree, you will be charged aggravated larceny of an automatic teller machine, a Class C felony. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.43.

Grand larceny in the second degree is a Class C felony. It carries a possible prison sentence of up to 15 years in prison. To be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, the value of the property or service that you are accused of stealing must be between $50,000 and $1,000,000. Under the New York Penal Code you will also be charged with grand larceny in the second degree if you obtain the property through extortion by threatening another person with physical harm, threatening that person with damaging property, or threatening to abuse your position as a public official and thereby causing that person harm. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.40

Grand larceny in the first degree is a Class B felony. It carries a possible prison sentence of up to 25 years in prison. To be charged with grand larceny in the first degree, the value of the property or service that you are accused of stealing must be more than $1,000,000. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.42

Defenses to a Grand Larceny ChargeProperty Value

Which grand larceny charge, or whether you will be charged with grand larceny at all can turn on the value of the property at issue. With a few exceptions, if the value of the property is $1,000 or less, you will not be charged with grand larceny, but with petit larceny. Petit larceny carries a lighter possible sentence than any grand larceny charge. If the value of the property is such that the charge will be grand larceny, in order for you to face the least severe grand larceny charge, you will have to show evidence that the value of the property is minimal. On the other hand, the prosecutor will seek to maximize the value of the property to charge you with the most severe grand larceny charge.

Intent to Deprive

An important element to the crime of grand larceny is intent. For a grand larceny charge to stick, you must have intended to deprive the owner of the property. If you took the property by mistake, or if you can show that you merely borrowed the property and intended to return it, you may have a defense to a charge of grand larceny.

Statutory Defenses

The larceny statute provides two defenses. If you had good reason to believe that you had a right to take the property, then the prosecutor will have a hard time convicting you of grand larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.15. The other statutory defense is to a larceny charge based on extortion. If you use extortion to try to make someone take specific steps in order to avoid a criminal charge, then you have a defense to a charge of extortion.

If you have been charged with grand larceny, it is important to immediately seek legal guidance. The potential consequences of being convicted of any grand larceny charge involves spending years in prison. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with grand larceny, petit larceny, and other theft crimes such as burglary, robbery, possession of stolen property, and embezzlement. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of grand larceny in the following locations:


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