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New York Theft by False Pretenses Frequently Asked Questions

What Is False Pretenses?

According to New York Penal Law, false pretenses is not a separate crime, but is a type of larceny. Larceny is the legal term for the crime of theft. There are a number of ways that a defendant can steal such as by shoplifting, embezzlement, and false pretenses. Theft by false pretenses involves obtaining the property of another by making an intentionally false statement upon which the victim relied. The false statement must be related to a material fact.

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Joe filled out a time card at work indicating that he had worked 40 hours, when he in fact worked only 20 hours. By intentionally lying about the number of hours he worked, Joe was able to obtain double the pay that he should have received. That amounts to theft by false pretenses.

Sarah is an art appraiser. Cindy wanted to sell a painting that she believed was worth about $50,000, and asked Sarah to appraise it. When Sarah looked at the painting, she immediately knew that it could fetch at least $100,000 at auction. However, she told Cindy that it was worth about $15,000. Then, Sarah arranged for her sister to purchase the painting for $15,000. Sara immediately sold it to a collector for $105,000. Sarah could be prosecuted for theft by false pretenses as she lied about a major aspect off the transaction and Cindy believed her.

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What Is the Difference Between Larceny by Trick and False Pretenses in New York?

Both larceny by trick and larceny by false pretenses are crimes of theft that involve lying in order to wrongfully obtain the property of another person. The difference is that with larceny by false pretenses the title of the property is obtained by the thief, while with larceny by trick only possession of the property is required.

Under New York’s criminal code there is little practical difference as there are not separate crimes of larceny by trick or larceny by false pretenses. There is only the crime of larceny. Trick and false pretenses are two of several different ways that larceny can be committed. Other ways include trespassory taking and embezzlement.

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Is False Pretenses a Misdemeanor or a Felony?

In New York a person accused of larceny can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. It depends on the value of the property stolen. Generally, if the value of the property stolen is $1000 or less, then the charge will be petit larceny which is a misdemeanor. If the value of the property is over $1000, then the charge will be grand larceny which is a felony.

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Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you or a loved one is under investigation for any type of larceny in New York, it is critical that you have experienced representation. The skilled criminal attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have more than 20 years of experience representing clients in New York charged with felonies and misdemeanors, and have the skill and resources to make sure your legal rights are protected. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Queens, Manhattan, and Westchester County.

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