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Grand Larceny: NY Penal Law Article 155

Whether by Embezzlement, Fraud, Extortion or outright theft based on value, Grand Larceny, pursuant to sections 155.30, 155.35, 155.40 and 155.42 of the New York Penal Law, is one of the most common felony White Collar crimes prosecuted in NYC and the metropolitan area from Manhattan to Poughkeepsie, White Plains to Queens and Brooklyn to Ramapo. While no New York Grand Larceny defense attorney can say they have "seen it all," the criminal defense lawyers and former prosecutors at Saland Law have successfully represented clients accused of theft valued in the tens of thousands to multiple millions of dollars in courthouses throughout the City and the Hudson Valley. Not merely defending those arrested for or charged with stealing, our advocates have also investigated Embezzlement, Blackmail and other schemes to facilitate successful prosecutions by District Attorneys and on behalf of victims of these offenses. Simply, in the realm of fraud offenses, Saland Law’s counsel have unmatched experience and knowledge.

Definition and Theories of Felony Theft

As noted above, prosecutors can pursue charges based on numerous theories and in varying degrees of severity. As a result, a person charged with this crime in New York can face a maximum penalty of up to four years in state prison for the lowest level offense of PL 155.30 to a maximum term of twenty-five years in prison for the most significant degree, PL 155.42. Regardless of what “type” or theory the District Attorney or Attorney General pursues, it’s important to remember that the foundation of the law is that you, knowingly without permission, took property of another and you did so with the intent to keep or withhold the same. The offense can take different twists and turns depending not only on the value of the property wrongfully stolen but in many instances the type of property in question or how you perpetrated the crime. Your legal advisor and advocate must be aware of these distinctions as it impacts the potential penalties you face.

Ignoring for now the associated felonies charged in an arrest, indictment or trial, such as Falsifying Business Records, Forgery, and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property to name a few, the predominant “type” of crime is one based on value. Using the definition in the above paragraph, the following are the four distinct degrees:

In addition to the above value-based approach, you can commit a felony Fourth Degree crime irrespective of the value of the property when it consists of a credit or debit card, firearm or vehicle. Moreover, extorting or blackmailing another person or “pickpocketing” are also felonious due to the means by which you conduct yourself. These offenses are codified as:

The directory and definitions of criminal theories and offenses listed above is not a comprehensive list but some of the more common subsections and theories prosecuted in courts throughout the City, Hudson Valley and state.

Penalty, Punishment and Sentence for Felony Stealing

Irrespective of the nature of the item wrongfully withheld or taken, the sentence and punishment for any felony offense relates to the degree of the crime for which you plead. These Grand Larceny sentencing guidelines mandate incarceration for those who are predicate felons but potentially allows for non-predicates and those without “rap sheets” to avoid jail or prison. Fourth, Third, Second and First Degree offenses are punishable by up to four, seven, fifteen and twenty-five years in prison respectively. Moreover, irrespective of which class “E,” “D,” or “C,” felony you are accused of committing, first-time offenders can avail themselves of probation, community service, fines and conditional discharges assuming a judge is willing to offer such a sentence. If he or she does not, then being handed over to corrections officers in a city jail or state prison is the alternative outcome.

Examples and Hypotheticals of Felony Larceny

The easiest way to visualize different ways you could run afoul of the law are some short scenarios and examples. Again, starting with the presumption that you did not have authority to act in the following manner but do so knowingly:

  • You remove a credit card from a purse at a bar.
  • You run up a corporate card with unauthorized transactions in excess of $1,000.
  • You successfully Blackmail an ex-girlfriend by threatening to release humiliating and naked selfies she sent you to her employer if she does not pay you a certain sum of money.
  • You embezzle $125,000 by rerouting checks or the monies from a business account of your employer to you own personal account.
  • You remove a painting from a hotel or restaurant north of $1,000.

With many factors raising the level of the degree or offense you can face, should you find yourself accused of or charged with any Grand Larceny offense it is central to your success in challenging the allegations that you vet the elements and potential defenses fully.

Your Defense, Your Case, Your Future

There is no catchall defense to an arrest, indictment or trial for any theory, subsection or degree of Grand Larceny. Instead, you must implement a defense keeping in mind both the elements of the statute along with the evidence in the prosecution's control or possession. Did you admit to wrongdoing? How are you linked to the allegedly illegal taking? Does the allegation have a “money trail” or are there real questions about whether others had access to the property you are accused of taking? Were you caught with the property or are there reasonable explanations as to what is perceived as illegal conduct? If possession or the taking is not in question, can you challenge the valuation of the property pursuant to PL 155.20 to limit or decrease your exposure?

Remember, whether a crime is White Collar in nature or a violent offense, the NYPD in New York City or any other police agency in the State of New York must still adhere to the constitution. If law enforcement executed search warrants at your home, place of business or bank, you were interrogated without properly being advised of your rights, or simply there is a misunderstanding to a complex financial situation, you have options. There are many approaches to protect yourself including one of mitigation, but you need the right advocate to help you identify and articulate the same.

Collateral and Indirect Consequences

Your failure to exercise the protections given to you under the law can, and often will, lead you to a regrettable and debilitating end both inside and outside the courtroom.

Do not compound an already bad situation by either delaying hiring your criminal lawyer or retaining inexperienced counsel. Whether you are being investigated by law enforcement such as the NYPD, Putnam County Sheriff, the New York State Police, or the Westchester County DA, internally by your employer, or you have already been arrested and bailed out post arraignment, the former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law will work with you to not only fight for your liberty and freedom, but to implement the strongest approach to reach your goal.

Call Our New York Theft and Larceny Lawyers and Former Manhattan Prosecutor at (212) 312-7129 or Contact Us Online Today.

New York Criminal Lawyer Blog - Theft Offenses
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