New York Laws on Petit and Grand Larceny and Shoplifting

by ECL Writer
Petit larceny

The penal code, which categorizes theft crimes according to their nature and the value of the item taken, defines the theft laws in New York state. Theft, embezzlement, larceny by trick, false pretenses, gaining lost property, and taking property by extortion are all banned actions under the larceny legislation in New York. In this post, Eastcoastlaws.com will outline all you need to know about New York laws on petit and grand larceny and shoplifting.

What is Larceny Under New York State Law

According to New York law, larceny is the unlawful theft or withholding of another person’s property with the goal of “depriving” them of it. Other larceny offenses include:

  • stealing by trick or embezzlement
  • obtaining property by false pretenses or false promises
  • acquiring lost property, and
  • taking property by extortion.

Any money, physical or personal property, computer data or programs, utilities, and other things of value are all considered to be property under a broad definition.

One can “deprive” another of property in one of two ways: either by (1) keeping it from them permanently or for so long that they lose a significant percentage of its economic value or benefit, or (2) disposing of it in a way that makes it unlikely they will be able to get it back. Like the majority of states, New York categorizes larceny based on the amount of money or the kind of property that was taken. Let’s examine the definitions and consequences of theft offenses in this state.

Petit Larceny in New York

Petit larceny, also known as petty theft, is a criminal offense in the state of New York that involves the theft of property with a value of less than $1,000. The penalty for petit larceny in New York can range from a fine to up to one year in jail, depending on the circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court. Repeat offenders may face more severe penalties.

Grand Larceny in New York

Grand larceny is a serious criminal offense in the state of New York, defined as the theft of property with a value of $1,000 or more. Unlike petit larceny, grand larceny is considered a felony, which means that it is a more serious crime with harsher penalties. The punishment for grand larceny in New York can be jail time, depending on the circumstances of the case and the amount of property stolen.

In order to be convicted of grand larceny, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to steal the property, took the property without the owner’s consent, and actually took possession of the property. Additionally, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property.

There are several different types of grand larceny, including grand larceny in the first degree, grand larceny in the second degree, and grand larceny in the third degree. The type of grand larceny that a person is charged with will depend on the specific circumstances of the case, such as the value of the property stolen, the use of force, and the presence of other criminal acts.

Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree NY

The crime of fourth-degree grand larceny covers several different types of theft—the most common of which involve stolen property when:

  • the value of the property is over $1,000
  • the property consists of a credit or debit card
  • the property is taken from the person of another or obtained by extortion using threats to harm another’s reputation or business
  • the property is a firearm, rifle, or shotgun, or
  • the property is a motor vehicle worth over $100.

Fourth-degree grand larceny constitutes a class E felony, whereby a guilty party can receive a sentence of up to four years imprisonment and a fine.

Grand Larceny in the Third Degree NY

When the value of the taken property exceeds $3,000 or when the item is an automated teller machine (ATM) or its contents, the offender is guilty of grand larceny in the third degree. A class D felony, such an offense carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail as well as a fine.

Grand Larceny in the Second Degree NY

A person who steals items valued at more than $50,000 or who obtains any amount of property through extortion involving threats of bodily harm, property destruction, or misuse of one’s position as a public employee is guilty of second-degree grand larceny. Larceny at this level is a class C felony. A guilty party might spend up to 15 years in jail and pay a fine.

Grand Larceny in the First Degree NY

When the stolen property has a value greater than $1,000,000, the perpetrator is convicted of first-degree grand larceny. This is a class B felony under the law, punishable by up to 25 years in jail and a fine.

Sentencing Enhancements for Repeat Offenders

Repeat offenders face harsher punishments under New York law. Repeat grand larceny offenders are subject to mandatory minimum prison sentences. For instance, a person who has previously been convicted of felony theft and commits fourth-degree grand larceny is subject to a mandatory minimum term of three years in prison.

Shoplifting Penalties in New York

New York’s shoplifting laws include both criminal and civil sanctions, like those in many other states.

Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting NY

Shoplifting is punishable in New York as a larceny charge. The severity of the criminal penalty for shoplifting depends on how much was stolen. (Penalties for larceny are listed above.) Theft of merchandise costing less than $1,000 is considered a class A misdemeanor. However, in New York, these misdemeanors can easily progress to felonies. Theft of goods worth more than $1,000, such as a smartphone, is punishable by felony charges and may result in prison time. Possession of an anti-security item with the aim to use it to steal goods, such as a coated bag or a security tag remover, is likewise illegal. A $500 fine and up to three months in jail are possible penalties for this class B misdemeanor violation.

Civil Penalties for Shoplifting NY

A person who steals from a store in New York, or the parent or legal guardian of a child who steals, may also be held civilly accountable to the store owner or merchant for the following:

  • the retail price of the merchandise, if not returned in a sellable condition, in an amount not to exceed $1,500, plus
  • a penalty not to exceed $75 or five times the retail price (with a cap of $500), whichever is greater.

How To Get Petit Larceny Charges Dropped

Petit larceny charges can only be dropped by the prosecuting attorney or the court. To increase the chances of having the charges dropped, you can take the following steps:

  • Hire a criminal defense attorney: An experienced attorney can help you build a strong defense and negotiate with the prosecution to have the charges dropped.
  • Cooperate with law enforcement: Being cooperative and forthcoming with information can demonstrate good faith and may result in leniency from the prosecution.
  • Provide evidence: If you have evidence that proves your innocence, provide it to your attorney who can present it to the prosecution.
  • Consider a plea deal: In some cases, the prosecution may agree to drop petit larceny charges in exchange for a plea to a lesser charge.

It is important to note that the decision to drop charges ultimately lies with the prosecution and the court, and there is no guarantee that the charges will be dropped, even with the steps outlined above.

Getting A Lawyer

If you’ve been accused of larceny or a related crime, such shoplifting or embezzlement, get in touch with a local criminal defense lawyer right away. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you through the local court system, explain your constitutional rights, and go over any potential defenses for your particular situation.

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