Embezzlement: NY Penal Law Article 155

New York Embezzlement Laws, Crimes & Defense

New York Detectives just arrested you at your place of business or your home. Maybe you have not been arrested, but law enforcement is seeking to talk with you about some questionable financial transactions. You are not naïve to what is going on nor confused as to why the police have come. The one-word answer is “Embezzlement,” aka, Grand Larceny, and you know if not handled properly, the investigation will quickly go from bad to worse. What is your next step? How will you defend yourself? Should you apologize, admit to what you have done or try to talk yourself out of this predicament? If you do so, is that a possible admission that will be used against you? Simply, what is New York Embezzlement law and how are you going to protect yourself in the moment while preserving your life and career going forward? For these answers, you need the experience, knowledge and advocacy of a lawyer versed in the specific and practical application of these and related charges.

Defining the Crimes & Possible Sentences

While both the accused and victims have common questions about Embezzlement and Grand Larceny, the easiest way to understand this offense is to look at the crime as an unlawful taking of another’s property with the intent to deprive that person of the property or to withhold the same. In the context of Embezzlement, the property in question is money whether it is obtaining the funds through fraudulent checks, improper use of a credit card, unapproved wire transfers, skimming cash or any other method. What dictates the severity of the offense is the value of the property. Again, in the context discussed here, examining the total amount of the theft from one business or complainant is generally how prosecutors determine the degree of the crime.

Briefly, the following are the crimes for Embezzlement:

  • First Degree Grand Larceny: NY PL 155.42 is a class “B” felony punishable by as much as twenty-five years in prison where a fraud exceeds $1,000,000.
  • Second Degree Grand Larceny: NY PL 155.40 is a class “C” felony punishable by as much as fifteen years in prison where a wrongful taking exceeds $50,000 and is not greater than $1,000,000.
  • Third Degree Grand Larceny: NY PL 155.35 is a class “D” felony punishable by as long as seven years in prison where the theft exceeds $3,000 and is no greater than $50,000.
  • Fourth Degree Grand Larceny: NY PL 155.30 is class “E” felony punishable by as much as four years in prison where one steals more than $1,000 but not more than $3,000.

Keep in mind that it is important to discuss with your own counsel how prosecutors aggregate multiple thefts over extended periods of times to increase the degree or severity of the charges you may face.

A Further Analysis & Related Offenses

An experienced attorney will likely tell you that there really is no crime codified with this name. Yes, embezzling money from an employer is a criminal offense regardless of whether it occurs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, White Plains or Queens, but an arrest, charge in court or record on a “rap sheet” will likely reflect a Penal Law Article 155 conviction referenced above. These include all the degrees of Grand Larceny, the Empire State’s theft and larceny statute. Although this offense is usually the focus of any such prosecution, it is in no way the only crime that you may face. Others may include:

  • Criminal Possession of Stolen Property: NY PL Article 165 relates to the wrongful possession of the monies or funds associated with the Grand Larceny whether those monies are in bank accounts, cash or in the form of other assets. Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the felony context ranges from class “E” to “B” felonies.
  • Second Degree Forgery: NY PL 170.10is associated with the alteration of certain documents (invoices, financial documents, transaction records, etc.) during the theft as a means or with the intent to defraud. Forgery in the Second Degree is a class “D” felony.
  • Second Degree Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument: NY PL 170.25 is similar to Forgery but is the offense for possessing the now manipulated written instrument. Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree is a class “D” felony.
  • First Degree Falsifying Business Records: NY PL 175.10 criminalizes for the destruction, changing and deleting of a private business’ records and, in the context of this type of fraud, to advance the theft. Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree is a class “E” felony.
  • First Degree Offering a False Instrument for Filing: NY PL 175.35 is the law’s response for the filing of fraudulent and altered documents with the intent to defraud a public office. Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree is a class “E” felony.

Every one of the offenses listed above is felonious, not a misdemeanor crime. As such, if convicted, terms of state prison exceeding one year are permissible and often enforced. In fact, the sentencing guidelines are quite clear. State prison is a very real possibility and in some circumstances incarceration is mandatory.

Example and Hypothetical of Illegal Conduct

You work in the financial department of a business, big or small. Over the course of a year, on eight separate occasions, you alter invoices to decrease monies due from a client after he or she pays for the rendered services or products your company provided. You then pocket the difference between the receipt and monies actually paid. Not only would you likely be charged with Forgery and Falsifying Business Records for the alterations to the paperwork but the more significant offense would be the stealing of monies. As reflected above, depending on the amount – more than $1,000.00, $3,000.00, $50,000.00 or $1,000.000 – you would also be charged with embezzling as Grand Larceny for the taking and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property for the illegal possession of the funds.

Your Case & Your Defense

As successful as the former Manhattan prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC have been in representing clients against arrests and indictments for these and other frauds, results and past success is not the gauge of your best and strongest defense. Instead, you and your counsel must assess the evidence against you and develop a plan of action to challenge the same or mitigate the conduct in question.

Don’t compromise your defense or your life today and for all the tomorrows you will encounter. Educate yourself on the law and contact our defense lawyers today. The only thing that is certain in any Embezzlement arrest in New York is that waiting and “doing nothing” or retaining inexperienced attorneys can, and often does, land you in custody for days, months or even years while destroying your future and that of your family.

Call the New York City Embezzlement lawyers and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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