Grand Larceny: NY Penal Law Article 155

by ECL Writer
New York Grand Larceny Frequently Asked Questions

Grand larceny is a serious crime that can carry significant penalties in the state of New York. According to the New York Penal Law Article 155, grand larceny involves the theft of property or money valued at $1,000 or more. This crime can take many forms, from stealing a car to embezzling funds from an employer. In this article, will take a closer look at grand larceny in New York State, including the different types of grand larceny and the penalties for this crime. We will also discuss the defenses that may be available to those facing grand larceny charges and the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

How Does New York State Law Define Grand Larceny?

Although definitions vary somewhat from state to state, grand larceny is defined under New York Penal Law Article 155 as wrongfully taking, withholding, or obtaining property from its rightful owner, with the aim to either take the property for themselves or someone else or to deprive the rightful owner of said property.

The felony classification of each degree of grand larceny ranges from a class E to a class B felony and is largely dependent on the value and type of property that has been wrongfully taken.

Where Do Grand Larceny Laws Come From?

Larceny originated as a criminal charge under the common law of England, and has since been abolished in England, the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland due to the crime being broken up into other categories (theft, burglary, etc.).

Larceny is still a criminal offense in the US, and is codified as a statutory crime in all US jurisdictions – however, the larceny statutes in each state can vary.

What Do The Degrees Of Grand Larceny Mean In New York?

The degree of grand larceny refers to the value of the property taken, with the severity of the penalty increasing from fourth degree to first degree. Here are the definitions and penal law codes of each:

  • Grand larceny in the first degree (PL 155.42) is the most severe and is charged when the property is valued at an excess of one million dollars.
  • Grand larceny in the second degree (PL 155.40(1)) occurs when the property stolen is worth more than $50,000, but less than one million.
  • Grand larceny in the third degree (PL 155.35) is when the pilfering is more than $3,000, but less than $50,000.
  • Grand larceny in the fourth degree (PL 155.30(1)) is the wrongful taking of property worth more than $1,000, but less than $3,000.

In addition to these degrees, there is also aggravated grand larceny of an automated teller machine (PL 155.43) – this is, like grand larceny in the second degree, considered a class C felony. However, this charge can only come about if the defendant has been convicted of grand larceny in the third degree within five years prior to the current charge.

What Are The Penalties For Each Degree Of Grand Larceny In New York?

The penalties of larceny directly correlate to the degree, regardless of the nature of the property you have taken. The maximum sentences for each degree of larceny are as follows:

  • First-degree larceny can result in a 25-year sentence
  • Second-degree larceny can lead to a 15-year sentence
  • Third-degree larceny can bring about a 7-year sentence
  • Larceny in the fourth degree can lead to a 4-year sentence

First-time offenders may be sentenced to probation, community service, fines, or conditional sentences instead of jail time.

What Actions Could Be Considered Felony Grand Larceny?

You may be wondering how these specific laws translate to real-life actions. Here are a few examples of what constitutes larceny in various degrees:

  • Obtaining stolen goods is classified as fourth-degree larceny, and could involve unlawfully taking a credit card, a motor vehicle, an item of religious significance, a firearm, ammonia (with the intent to manufacture methamphetamines), classified scientific material, a public record, or any property taken through extortion – in essence, the property can refer to any object that holds value
  • Third-degree larceny is restricted to either property worth over $3000, or an ATM (or the contents within an ATM)
  • Property must be valued at over $50,000 to lead to a charge of second-degree larceny – this charge can also be made if a property was obtained through violence or abusive extortion
  • Finally, first-degree larceny occurs if the property is valued at over one million dollars, and typically may result in a jail sentence even if this is a first conviction.

How Does Grand Larceny Fiffer From Petit Larceny?

Where grand larceny refers to the unlawful taking of property worth a certain amount of money, petit larceny means illegally taking any property that isn’t yours, regardless of the value of the property (though it must be under $1000).

Rather than being a felony, petit larceny is a class A misdemeanor and usually comes about in situations like shoplifting from a grocery store or taking a wallet from an unattended cafe table.

However, even the taking of low-value property can be charged as grand larceny if theft directly from a person is involved. For instance, if someone were to pickpocket $30 directly from a person, that person can potentially be charged with grand larceny in the fourth degree.

Defenses To Grand Larceny In New York

Grand larceny, a serious offense in New York, is the theft of goods or cash worth more than a particular sum. Grand larceny is a felony in New York and includes harsh punishments like jail time and fines. Nonetheless, there are a number of ways to combat accusations of grand larceny.

The defense of consent is the first line of defense against grand larceny. The defendant cannot be accused of grand larceny if the owner of the property gave the defendant permission to remove it. It’s crucial to remember that consent cannot be forced or tricked into giving it; rather, it must be voluntarily offered.

The defense of mistaken belief is an additional defense to grand theft. A person cannot be prosecuted with grand larceny if they thought they had the legal authority to take the items or money. Nonetheless, the defendant must demonstrate that the plaintiff’s opinion was reasonable and founded on a factual error rather than a legal error.

Grand larceny cases can also benefit from the defense of abandonment. Grand larceny charges cannot be brought against a person who took the abandoned property with the aim of returning it to its rightful owner. Nonetheless, the defendant must demonstrate that they truly intended to return the item.

Grand larceny trials may also allow the defense of duress. Grand larceny cannot be alleged against a person if they were coerced into taking the goods or cash under threat of physical damage or death. The defendant must, however, demonstrate that the threat was real and that there was no other option besides seizing the property.

In circumstances of grand larceny, the defense of entrapment can also be employed. The defendant may contend that they were the victim of entrapment and cannot be charged with grand larceny if law enforcement personnel persuaded them to perform the crime.

Importance Of Working With An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney On A Grand Larceny Case

Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical when facing grand larceny charges. Grand larceny is a serious offense in New York, and the consequences of a conviction can be severe. Therefore, it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side who understands the law and can help you navigate the legal system.

One of the main benefits of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is their knowledge of the law. A good attorney will be familiar with the statutes, rules, and procedures that govern grand larceny cases in New York. They will know how to investigate the case, collect evidence, and build a strong defense strategy based on the specific facts of your case.

Another significant benefit of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is their ability to negotiate with prosecutors. Prosecutors often have significant discretion in how they handle cases, including whether to file charges, plea bargains or go to trial. A skilled attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to reduce charges, negotiate a favorable plea deal, or even have the charges dismissed altogether.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can also provide emotional support and guidance throughout the legal process. Facing grand larceny charges can be overwhelming, and having an attorney on your side who understands the process can help ease your stress and anxiety. They can answer your questions, keep you informed about your case, and help you make informed decisions about your defense.

Finally, an experienced criminal defense attorney can provide you with the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome. They have the experience and expertise to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, challenge evidence, and present compelling arguments in court. With the right attorney on your side, you can fight the charges and protect your rights and freedoms.

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