New Mexico Misdemeanor and Felony Larceny Laws

Like many states, New Mexico laws prohibit a wide range of conduct relating to theft, including larceny, falsely obtaining services, receiving stolen property, and shoplifting.

Like many states, New Mexico laws prohibit a wide range of conduct relating to theft, including larceny, falsely obtaining services, receiving stolen property, and shoplifting.

New Mexico law uses the term "larceny" to encompass most theft crimes.

Defining Larceny Under New Mexico Law

Larceny occurs when a person steals (unlawfully takes) something of value that belongs to someone else. To be convicted, the prosecution must prove the person intended to permanently deprive the true owner of the stolen item.

The crime of larceny can involve the taking of any kind of property, services, money, and intangible items that has value. New Mexico law also recognizes a number of specific larceny-related offenses, including:

Receiving stolen property. This crime involves intentionally getting, keeping, or throwing away property that the offender knows belongs to someone else.

Falsely obtaining services or accommodations. Under this offense, a person can be charged for obtaining services, food, entertainment, or accommodations without paying and with the intent to cheat or defraud the provider.

Shoplifting. The crime of shoplifting entails several willful acts:

  • taking merchandise without paying
  • concealing merchandise with the intention of not paying
  • altering labels or price tags with the intention of depriving the owner of the full retail value, or
  • transferring merchandise from the correct container to an incorrect container with the intention of depriving the owner of the full retail value.

Embezzlement. Embezzlement occurs when a person is entrusted with control over another's property and unlawfully converts that property for their own use.

(N.M. Stat. §§ 30-16-1 and following (2020).)

Classification of Larceny and Penalties in New Mexico

Like most states, New Mexico classifies larceny offenses mainly according to the value of the stolen property or services. In some cases, such as with firearms and livestock, the categorization depends upon the type of stolen property. Let's take a closer look at the specific classifications and penalties for larceny.

Petty Misdemeanor Larceny

A person commits petty misdemeanor larceny when the value of the stolen property or services is $250 or less. Such an offender faces up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Misdemeanor Larceny

Larceny constitutes a misdemeanor when the value of the stolen property or services is more than $250 but less than $501. A person guilty of misdemeanor larceny is subject to up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Fourth-Degree Felony Larceny

A person commits a fourth-degree felony when the value of the stolen property or services is more than $500 but less than $2,501. It's also a fourth-degree felony to steal a firearm valued at less than $2,500. This offense can result in up to 18 months' incarceration and a $5,000 fine.

Third-Degree Felony Larceny

An offender is guilty of a third-degree felony when the value of the stolen property or services is more than $2,500 but less than $20,001 or the stolen item is livestock (any value). The defendant faces up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Second-Degree Felony Larceny

Stolen property or services valued at more than $20,000 results in a second-degree felony. A guilty person is subject to up to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

(N.M. Stat. §§ 30-16-1, 31-18-15, 31-19-1 (2020).)

Effects of Prior Convictions

New Mexico larceny statutes do not specifically address the effects of prior convictions on a current larceny charge, but the "habitual offender" laws will likely impose a harsher sentence on people convicted of a felony larceny offense if their criminal records include one or more felony convictions in the last 10 years.

New Mexico adds one year to a sentence for a felony larceny offense if the offender has one prior felony conviction. Likewise, New Mexico law adds four years to an offender's sentence if the offender has two prior felony convictions, and eight years to an offender's sentence if the offender has three or more prior felony convictions.

(N.M. Stat. § 31-18-17 (2020).)

Shoplifting Penalties in New Mexico

As previously mentioned, shoplifting occurs when someone takes or conceals merchandise without paying or alters or switches price tags or containers to avoid paying the full retail price. New Mexico law provides for criminal and civil penalties when it comes to the crime of shoplifting.

Criminal Penalties

The criminal penalties for shoplifting are the same as the penalties for larceny and depend on the value of the stolen merchandise (see above).

Civil Penalties

In addition, an adult who commits shoplifting in New Mexico may be civilly liable to the merchant or store owner for the following damages:

  • the retail value of the merchandise (unless returned undamaged)
  • punitive damages of at least $100 but not more than $250, and
  • reimbursement of the store owner's costs in bringing the lawsuit and their reasonable attorneys' fees.

(N.M. Stat. §§ 30-16-20, 30-16-21 (2020).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you have been charged with larceny or any theft-related crime in New Mexico, contact a local criminal defense attorney today. An experienced lawyer will thoroughly explain the criminal court process and discuss potential defenses for your case.

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