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Queens Grand Larceny in the First Degree

Under N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.42, you have committed grand larceny in the first degree if you take, obtain or withhold property that belongs to someone else and the value of the property is more than $1,000,000.

Grand larceny in the first degree is a felony and it is the most serious grand larceny charge. There are 4 other felony larceny charges: grand larceny in the fourth degree, grand larceny in the third degree, grand larceny in the second degree, and aggravated grand larceny of an automated teller machine. There is also one misdemeanor larceny charge called petit larceny. A charge of petit larceny is reserved for thefts where the property value is relatively low, while grand larceny will be the charge where the theft is considered significantly more serious as the property value is high. The penalty for a conviction of grand larceny in the first degree is a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

Definition of Larceny

Larceny is defined as taking property from another person with the intent to deprive that person of the property. While the main distinguishing factor among the 6 different types of larceny is the value of the property involved, there are other factors that determine which is the appropriate larceny charge.

Larceny in the first degree involves theft of property that has a value of over $1,000,000. At the other end of the spectrum is petit larceny which involves theft of items with a value of less than $1,000. It is the "shoplifting" crime as it is the charge most often applied to retail theft cases.

The other 4 larceny charges are:

  • Grand larceny in the fourth degree: The property value is more than $1,000, but not more than $3,000
  • Grand larceny in the third degree: The property value is more than $3,000, but not more than $50,000
  • Grand larceny in the second degree: The property value is more than $50,000, but not more than $1,000,000
  • Aggravated grand larceny of an automated teller machine: The property is an automated teller machine or the contents of an automated teller machine
Definition of Property

For the purposes of the larceny statute, property can be almost anything, including:

  • Personal property
  • Money
  • Real property
  • Computer data
  • A computer program
  • Evidence of a debt or contract
  • Gas, steam, water or electricity

N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(1)

Being Arrested for Larceny

Because a charge of larceny in the first degree is a felony, if you are suspected of grand larceny in the first degree, you will be arrested and immediately taken into custody. If the charge was a misdemeanor petit larceny charge, there is a good chance the police officer would have issued you a Desk Appearance Ticket instead of immediately taking you into custody. Upon arrest you will eventually be taken to Central Booking. You will be held there until your arraignment hearing. This could be anywhere from a few hours to over a day.

At your arraignment hearing you will find out the crimes with which you are being charged. The prosecutor my decide to charge you with more crimes in addition to just grand larceny in the first degree, such criminal possession of stolen property, attempted grand larceny or other grand larceny charges. Bail is determined at the arraignment. The prosecutor will give the court reasons why bail should be set and recommend an amount. Your defense will argue for low bail or no bail. The judge will consider both arguments and set the bail amount. The judge may even order that you be released on your own recognizance (ROR). Or the judge may decide that you should be held without bail.

After you arraignment your case will go to the Grand Jury which will decide whether or not to indict you. If you are indicted, you will be again arraigned and be permitted to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you will be sentenced. If you plead not guilty you will eventually go to trial, unless a plea agreement is reached in advance of trial.

Defenses to a Grand Larceny ChargeValue of the Property

In order for a charge of grand larceny in the first degree to hold, the value of the property that you were accused of taking must be over $1,000,000. If you can show that that the value of the property is actually less than $1,000,000, then you cannot be convicted of grand larceny in the first degree. You may, however, still face lesser grand larceny charges.

Lack of Intent

In order to be convicted of grand larceny in the first degree, or any grand larceny charge, the prosecutor must show that you had intent to deprive the owner of the property at issue. One way for the prosecutor to show your intent to deprive the owner of the property is if you use it. For example, if you are accused of stealing over $1 million dollars, and you use it to buy expensive vehicles and other luxury items, you may have a difficult time convincing the trier of fact that your attentions were other than to deprive the owner of the money.

However, if you can show that you took the property in error, or if you can show that you borrowed the property with the intent to return it, then you may have a defense to the larceny charge.

Rightful Taking

Another defense that is similar to lack of intent, is that you took the property because you believed that you had the right to take it. For example, if you were given permission to take the property from a person who you reasonably believed had the authority to give you permission to take the property, you may have a valid defense to a grand larceny in the first degree charge. The rightful taking defense is only available in cases of grand larceny based on trespassory taking or embezzlement. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.15.

Penalty for Grand Larceny in the First Degree

Grand larceny in the first degree is the most serious larceny charge. It is so serious because a significant amount of money is at issue: over $1 million. As such, it is a Class B felony. If you are convicted, you could go to jail for up to 25 years. If you are a first time offender there is a minimum sentence of 1-3 years. This means that you may be sentenced to far less than the maximum of 25 years. In People v. Stephens, No. 2014-04061,2014 WL 2522101 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. June 5, 2014), the defendant, Walter Stephens, was convicted of not only grand larceny in the first degree, but also of criminal possession of stolen property in the first and third degrees. Stephens was sentenced to just 3 to 9 years in prison. If you have a criminal history with a felony conviction, the law requires that you serve a minimum prison sentence of 4.5-9 years.

In addition to a prison the judge may also sentence you to 5 years probation. If you are released from prison, you will have to serve the rest of your probation term, if any. While it is better to be out of prison, probation is does not mean that you are completely free to do what you chose. There are typically a slew of rules that you must follow while you are on probation. The rules may include:

  • you must not commit another crime
  • you must have a job
  • you must support your family
  • you must stay away from disreputable people
  • you must stay away from disreputable places
  • you must wear an electronic monitor
  • you must stick to a curfew
  • you must submit to warrantless searches
  • you must get permission before leaving the jurisdiction
  • you must not possess a firearm
  • you must not use drugs
  • you must pay restitution

Failure to follow the conditions of your probation could result in you being sent back to jail.

Criminal Record

Following your conviction, you will end up with a criminal record that will negatively impact you life. Your record will include a serious felony. Having a criminal history, especially one that includes a serious felony, will make it difficult for you to find a job. Employers are legally permitted to deny you employment if the crime you were convicted of has a bearing on the job responsibilities. Theft is generally considered a type of crime that would be viewed as problematic for many jobs.

The consequences of being convicted of grand larceny in the first degree are serious, impacting your life and the lives of your family members as you could be sent to prison for several years.

If you face a larceny charge, it is important to have a Queens grand larceny in the first degree lawyer who is experienced with not only grand larceny, but other theft offenses. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with theft crimes such as grand larceny, petit larceny, possession of stolen property, burglary, and robbery. Contact us at 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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