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Suffolk County Grand Larceny

If you steal property with a value over $1,000, then you have committed grand larceny. Grand larceny is one of several different types of theft charges under New York law. It is defined as taking the property of another person with the intent of keeping the property away from that person. Larceny can occur in numerous ways such as by trespassory taking, by embezzlement, by trick, by deceit, or by writing a bad check. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.05. Grand larceny is considered a particularly serious type of larceny. There are several different types of grand larceny offenses, all of which are felonies. Because of this the punishment for a grand larceny conviction can be up to 25 years in prison, plus restitution and probation. 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 is not serious enough to be classified as grand larceny, then the charge will be petit larceny, a misdemeanor. If you have been charged with grand larceny, it is important to speak with an experienced Suffolk County Grand Larceny Lawyer who understands the New York criminal justice system and who will aggressively defend you against the charges.

Grand Larceny Defined

Larceny is the legal term for stealing. However, in order to fully understand what it means to commit grand larceny, it is first necessary to understand the legal definitions for the terms that are used in the larceny statute. The stealing of property is defined as the wrongful "taking, obtaining or withholding" or property. Taking is the act of seizing property from another person, while obtaining property means causing the transfer of the legal interest in the property from the owner to another person. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2). Withholding is defined as refusing to give property back to its owner. Accordingly, larceny does not require you to take the property from someone else. If you initially had the property lawfully, but then failed to return it, then you have wrongfully withheld the property. For an act to constitute larceny, you must also have the intent to commit larceny.

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

Property is defined as almost anything of value. Examples include money, personal possessions, real estate, computer data, computer programs, vehicles, collectibles, gas, steam, water, and 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, such as cultures, documents, drawings, devices, evidence, micro-organisms, or specimens. The scientific material also cannot be available to anyone other than its 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 such 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). Examples of a service is labor, a computer service, transportation service, restaurant service or equipment service. In addition a service can also be cable TV service, or telephone service. Examples of larceny based on a service include:

  • Not paying for your restaurant bill
  • Tampering with an electricity or gas meter so that the level of consumption is understated
  • Failing to pay a fare to ride public transportation.
  • Diverting wifi internet connections

New York law also lists other forms that larceny can take:

  • Lost Property. If you find property that another person lost. If instead of taking a reasonable effort to return the property to its owner, you decide to keep it, you can be charged with larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2)(b)
  • Bad Check. If you pay for something with a check that fails to clear, you could be charged with larceny. In other words, you have obtained property or a service without paying for it. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2)(c)
  • False promise. Acquiring property by a false promise means that you lied to someone in order to obtain the property. You can be charged with larceny if you tell another person that if he or she gives you certain property, you will do a certain thing, but in reality you had no intention of doing that thing. As a result, you obtain the property for free. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.00(2)(d)
  • Extortion. Extortion means obtaining property by threatening to cause harm. The object of the harm can be the person from whom you demand the property, or someone else. The harm can be physical harm, harm to property, harm to someone's business or career, harm to someone's financial condition, or harm to someone's reputation.
Degrees of Grand Larceny Charge

There are 4 degrees of severity for a grand larceny offense: grand larceny in the first, second, third or fourth degree. In general, the different degrees of grand larceny are 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 such as the type of property that was taken or how the property was taken.

Grand larceny in the fourth degree is the least severe grand larceny charge. It is a Class E felony. It carries a maximum punishment of 4 years in prison. To be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree, the property must have a value of more than $1,000 and less than $3,000. In addition, 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, even if its value is under $1,000. If you steal from someone's person, 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 take 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 fourth degree grand larceny. Otherwise, if you had not stolen from the person, 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 vehicle is always a grand larceny. Stealing certain religious items 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. If convicted, you could go end up incarcerated for up to 4 years. To be charged with grand larceny in the third degree, the value of the property or service 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. If you have already been convicted for an ATM-related theft, then 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. The sentence for this offense is harsh because the value of the property is so high-- $50,000 and $1,000,000. Under the New York Penal Law you will also be charged with grand larceny in the second degree if you take the property through extortion. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.40

Grand larceny in the first degree is the most severe larceny charge. It is a Class B felony. It carries a possible prison sentence of up to 25 years. To face this charge 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 Charge

Property Value
The grand larceny charge that you face, if any, may 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 is a misdemeanor and as such 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 get the charges lowered to a less severe grand larceny charge or to petit larceny, you have to minimize the value of the property. The prosecutor, on the other hand, will try to maximize the value of the property in order to charge you with the most severe grand larceny offense.

Intent to Deprive
An essential element to the crime of grand larceny is intent. For a grand larceny charge to stick, you must have intended to keep the property from its owner. If you mistakenly took the property, or if 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 that if you had good reason to believe that you had a right to take the property, then it will be difficult for the prosecutor to convict you of grand larceny. N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.15. Furthermore, the statute also provides that 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 or any other theft offense, it is critical that you immediately seek legal guidance. The consequence of being convicted of any grand larceny charge could mean that you must spend 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 800.696.9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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