Queens Grand Larceny of a Vehicle

Grand theft of a vehicle, often referred to as car theft or grand theft auto, is one of the most common crimes in New York as well as in other parts of the country. Each year billions of dollars are lost due to vehicle thefts. Stealing a car, truck, or SUV is a type of grand larceny. Larceny is a legal term for stealing. It means to obtain, take or withhold the property owned by another person with the intent to deprive. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05(1). Property can be almost anything of value including a car, money, personal property, real property, computer data, or utilities. Depending on how the theft is accomplished, what is taken, and the value of the stolen property, the criminal charge will be either a misdemeanor or a felony. A felony is more serious than a misdemeanor and the punishment is more severe. In the case of a theft of a vehicle, the charge will almost always be a felony. This means that if you are convicted of grand larceny of a vehicle, you may end up spending years in prison. If you are accused of grand larceny of a vehicle or any other crime of theft, contact an experienced Queens Grand Larceny of a Vehicle Lawyer who will aggressively defend you throughout the criminal process.

Types of Grand Larceny

Under the New York Penal Code there are several different types of larceny crimes. In general, the crime you are charged with depends on the value of the property you are accused of stealing. A larceny charge could be petit 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. In general, for each of the larceny charges, the property value must be:

  • Petit larceny: $1,000 or less
  • Grand larceny in the fourth degree: More than $1,000, but not more than $3,000.
  • Grand larceny in the third degree: More than $3,000, but not more than $50,000.
  • Grand larceny in the second degree: More than $50,000, but not more than $1,000,000
  • Grand larceny in the first degree: More than $1,000,000

However, the New York Penal Code provides that if you steal a vehicle, and it has a value that is more than $100, then the charge will be grand larceny in the fourth degree. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30(8). If the value is $100 or less, then the charge will be petit larceny, misdemeanor. Because most cars have a value that is at least $100 and typically significantly more, then if you are accused of stealing a car, the charge will be at a minimum grand larceny in the fourth degree. The higher the value of the car, the more serious the grand larceny charge.

For purposes of the grand larceny statute, a vehicle is something that is operated or driven on a public highway that is propelled by any power other than muscular power. The following are excluded from the definition of vehicle: motorcycles, electric wheelchairs, snowmobiles, ATVs, fire or police vehicles, farm tractors and certain other farm equipment. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.30(8); N.Y. VTL § 125

Defenses

Three common defenses to grand larceny of a vehicle include:

Claim of Right Defense. The larceny statute provides a defense known as the claim of right defense. If you took the car with a good faith belief that you had the right to take it, then you may have a valid defense to a charge of grand larceny of a vehicle. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.15. To use this defense, it is not necessary for your belief to be correct or even reasonable. If you mistakenly believed that you had a right to take the car, then you did not have the intent required by the statute to commit larceny.

Lack of Intent to Deprive. If you took the car and can show that you only intended to borrow it, you may be able defeat grand larceny charges.

Consent. If the owner of the car gave you permission to take it, then you did not steal it. This may seem like an odd defense as in most cases it is the owner of the vehicle who reports it stolen. However, this defense may be valid if in the past the owner did give you permission to use the car without asking, and you believed that you still had such permission.

Punishment for Grand Larceny of a Car

The punishment for grand larceny based on stealing a car varies depending on the grand larceny charge. The range of punishment is up to 25 years in prison.

Petit larceny. If you take a car that is worth $100 or less, you could be convicted of petit larceny, a misdemeanor. Your sentence could be up to 1 year in jail.

Grand larceny in the fourth degree. If you are convicted of grand larceny in the fourth degree based on stealing a vehicle, you could be sentenced to up to 4 years in prison, 5 years of probation, restitution or a combination of these 3 penalties. For first time offenders there is not a required minimum sentence. However, if you have a prior felony conviction, the minimum sentence for grand larceny in the fourth degree is 1.5 years in prison.

Grand larceny in the third degree. If you are convicted of grand larceny in the third degree based on stealing a car that has a value of more than $3,000 but not more than $50,000, you could be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison, 5 years probation, restitution or a combination of the three. For first time offenders there is no minimum sentence. However, if you have a prior felony conviction, the minimum sentence for grand larceny in the third degree is 2-4 years in prison.

Grand larceny in the second degree. If you are convicted of grand larceny in the second degree based on stealing a car that has a value of more than $50,000 but not more than $1,000,000, you could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison, 5 years probation, restitution or a combination of the three. For first time offenders the New York Penal Code does not require a minimum prison sentence. However, if you have a prior felony conviction, the minimum sentence for grand larceny in the second degree is 3-6 years in prison.

Grand larceny in the first degree. If you are convicted of grand larceny in the first degree because you were found to have stolen a car that is worth more than $1 million you could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of 1-3 years in prison if you are a first time offender, or 4.5-9 years if you have a prior felony conviction.

If you have been charged with grand larceny based on vehicle theft, you should immediately seek legal guidance. A criminal conviction will impact the rest of your life. 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 of a vehicle, as well as other types of grand larceny, petit larceny, burglary, possession of stolen property, robbery, credit card fraud, as well as other types of crimes. 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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