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Second Degree Grand Larceny: NY Penal Law 155.40

What are the crimes of Grand Larceny in New York? While there are many degrees, the felony offense that encompasses the greatest amount of conduct in terms of value of allegedly stolen property is Second Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.40. Experienced practitioners who find themselves in the state courts in New York City, the Hudson Valley and elsewhere recognize that because the magnitude of the alleged stealing associated with this offense can be quite vast, there is no “one size fits all” defense. In fact, the wrong response, whether upon arrest and arraignment on a felony complaint or post indictment by a Grand Jury, can have crippling direct and collateral consequences. Simply, if there is any case the demands the expertise of a criminal lawyer, this is it.

Definition and Elements

In non-technical and non-legal terms, this class “C” felony comes in two “flavors” or types. In the most concise terms, if you wrongfully take, withhold and steal property for your own gain or to the detriment of the rightful owner, and the property, often money, is valued no less than $50,000 but no more than $1 million, then you have violated Penal Law 155.40(1). Although your actual penalty and punishment may differ, the charge and range of the applicable sanction is the same irrespective of the property in question being valued at $70,000.00 or $700,000.00.

While far less common, if you commit theft by Extortion, a distinct crime of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, and, regardless of the property value, your Blackmail involves instilling fear in your target that you or another person will cause him or her a physical injury, damage their property, or, where relevant, abuse your position as public servant to adversely impact that person, then you have not only violated Penal Law 155.30(6), but Penal Law 155.40(2) as well.

If it is not clear, just as you can and would be charged with two offenses if your conduct involved Blackmail, any degree or type of larceny can also involve related offenses depending on the evidence. These can include the White Collar crimes of Scheme to Defraud, Falsifying Business Records, Tax Fraud, Money Laundering and Residential Tax Fraud among others.

Penalty and Punishment

To assert that any incarceration is insignificant would ring hollow, but at the same time there is definitely a difference between a brief couple week stint in a county jail and, even as a first time offender, facing up to five (5) to fifteen (5) years in prison as you would upon conviction for this offense. There is no other way to look at the potential punishment as anything but life altering. Although such a sentence is not mandatory for a first arrest, there is little doubt that even if prosecutors don’t seek the maximum punishment where accusations involve the lower end of the financial spectrum, pleas and convictions involving property valued at $100,000.00, $250,000.00, $500,000.00 or $1 million will be met with frightening blowback. You can expect that the District Attorney will consider or seek your imprisonment whether it is as “little” as one (1) to three (3) or something in the arena of three (3) to nine (9) year in prison or more.

Whatever the court ultimate hands down or you agree upon in advance with prosecutors, with the right advocacy from your counsel you may be able to potentially lower your exposure to a non-incarceratory sentence, probation, a conditional discharge, and even fines.

Example and Hypothetical

As noted above, embezzling and skimming money off the books are routine situations that play out in the justice system where the wrongful taking falls within the monetary guidelines for this Second Degree crime. Keep in mind that if you alter entries into your employer’s computer system, manually change invoices, or open up accounts without authorization, not only can you find yourself indicted for this offense, it would not be surprising to see counts of Falsifying Business Records or Forgery on the pleadings. Even worse, you could be accused of being part of a larger scheme and find yourself indicted for Enterprise Corruption.

In the less common scenario where the NYPD or State Police arrest someone for PL 155.40(2), if you Blackmail a person for $75,000.00 and do so while threatening to break the legs or burn down the home of your alleged target, for example, not only would you commit the “E” felony “catch all” Extortion offense, but this more serious degree as well.

Your Case, Your Defense, Your Futre

Remember, George Orwell said it best. “All defenses are equal, but some defenses are more equal than others.” Even if every defense you propose seems destined to equally fail, there are often far better approaches and strategies you can implement if you take the time to vet your case with your counsel. Is mitigation the best approach along with as much restitution as you are able to pay? Alternatively, can you challenge the valuation of property and thereby lessen the degree of the offense? Further, how can prosecutors confirm, for example, it was you who alone had access to where the money or property was kept or the computer that was allegedly tampered? Was it locked away and who had a key? Was there a shared password or login? Far too many avenues to explore, it is critical you and your attorney get in front of any allegation as early as possible and arm yourselves with the evidence and talking points you need to either minimize your punishment or firmly grasp your innocence and exoneration.

No matter how you navigate the criminal justice system and even if you were processed by way of a Desk Appearance Ticket, do not forget that even if you satisfactorily close your case, secondary or other primary ramifications won’t merely go away unless you are able to properly address them in advance. Will you lose your legal status as a foreign national in the United States? What will happen to your H1B or F1 visa? Will your pursuit of citizenship come to screeching halt? Further, when it comes time to report your arrest or, even worse, conviction, to your professional accreditation organization, FINRA, or the Board of Education, will your career be either tarnished or lost?

Irrespective of the allegation and what stage of the process you find yourself, if protecting your future, name and liberty is important to you, then know there is no substitute for advocacy, knowledge and experience. The criminal lawyers and former Manhattan prosecutors at Saland Law stand ready.

Call our New York defense attorneys and victim advocates at (212) 312-7129 or Contact Us Online Today.

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