New York Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

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Defining Theft Under New York Law

New York criminal laws use the term “larceny” to describe theft laws. In New York, larceny occurs when a person “wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds” property from its rightful owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of such property. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.05.)

New York laws also identify a number of specific methods of committing larceny, including:

  • larceny by trick or embezzlement
  • obtaining property by false pretenses
  • acquiring lost property
  • issuing a bad check, or
  • taking property by extortion. (Penal Law § 155.05.)

Classification of Theft Offenses and Penalties in New York

Like most states, New York classifies a theft or larceny crime according to the monetary value of the property involved. Let’s take a closer look at how larceny crimes are defined and penalized under New York law. 

Theft as Petit Larceny. The lowest-level theft offense in New York is called "petit larceny," or petty theft, which is the unlawful taking of property or services valued at no more than $1,000. New York law classifies petit larceny as a class A misdemeanor. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.25.)

A sentence for conviction of a class A misdemeanor in New York may include imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year and a fine not to exceed $1,000. (Penal Law § 70.15, § 80.05(1).)

Theft as Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. If the value of the property or services stolen exceeds $1,000 -- or if the property is a firearm, motor vehicle, credit/debit card, or a few other specific types of property -- the offense is grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony under New York law. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.30.)

Conviction of a class E felony in New York carries a potential sentence of imprisonment for a term not to exceed four years, and a fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the amount of the offender's gain from the theft. (Penal Law § 70.00(2)(e), § 80.00(1).)

Theft as Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. If the value of the property or services stolen exceeds $3,000 -- or if the property is an automated teller machine or its contents -- the offense is grand larceny in the third degree, a class D felony in New York. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.35.)

A sentence for conviction of a class D felony will include imprisonment for a term not to exceed seven years, and a fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the amount of the offender's gain from the theft. (Penal Law § 70.00(2)(d), § 80.00(1).)

Theft as Grand Larceny in the Second Degree. If the value of the property or services stolen exceeds $50,000, or if the offender obtains the property through certain types of extortion, the offense is grand larceny in the second degree, a class C felony. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.40.)

The potential sentence for a class C felony in New York is imprisonment for a term not to exceed 15 years, and a fine not to exceed $15,000. (Penal Law § 70.00(2)(c), § 80.00(1).)

Theft as Grand Larceny in the First Degree. If the value of the property or services stolen exceeds one million dollars, the offense is grand larceny in the first degree, a class B felony. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.42.)

The sentence for a class B felony in New York includes imprisonment for a term not to exceed 25 years, and a fine not to exceed $30,000. (Penal Law § 70.00(2)(b), § 80.00(1).)

Civil Penalties for Theft in New York

In addition to criminal penalties for larceny (as described above), a person who commits shoplifting in New York (or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who commits shoplifting) may be held civilly liable 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 the greater of five times the retail price or $75, with a cap of $500. (N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Laws § 11-105.)

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