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.
New York law identifies a number of specific methods of committing larceny, including:
Property includes any money, personal or real property, computer data or program, evidence of debt or contract, or any article, substance, or thing of value (such as gas, water, or electricity), which is provided for a charge or compensation.
A person "deprives" another of property in one of two ways—either by (1) withholding it from the owner permanently or for such an extended period of time that the owner loses a major portion of its economic value or benefit or (2) disposing of the property in a way that makes it unlikely the owner will be able to recover it.
(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 155.00, 155.05 (2020).)
Like most states, New York classifies larceny according to the monetary value or type of property involved. Let's take a closer look at how this state defines and penalizes larceny crimes.
The lowest-level larceny offense in New York is called petit larceny, which is involves stolen property worth $1,000 or less. Petit larceny is a class A misdemeanor, which subjects the offender to up to 364 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The crime of grand larceny in the fourth degree covers several different types of theft—the most common of which involve stolen property when:
Fourth-degree grand larceny constitutes a class E felony, whereby a guilty party can receive a sentence of up to four years' imprisonment and a fine in the amount of $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the crime (which is the same fine-related penalty for all levels of grand larceny).
An offender is guilty of grand larceny in the third degree when the value of the stolen property exceeds $3,000 or the property is an automated teller machine (ATM) or its contents. Such an offense is a class D felony and carries up to seven years in prison and a fine.
A person commits grand larceny in the second degree by stealing property worth more than $50,000 or by obtaining any amount of property via extortion involving threats of physical harm, property damage, or abuse of one's position as a public servant. This level of larceny constitutes a class C felony. A guilty defendant faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine.
A person is guilty of grand larceny in the first degree when the value of the stolen property exceeds one million dollars. The law classifies such a crime as a class B felony, which carries up to 25 years in prison and a fine.
New York law provides for increased penalties for repeat offenders. Defendants guilty of a grand larceny offense who have a previous grand larceny conviction on their records face mandatory minimum sentences in prison. For example, a person who commits fourth-degree grand larceny, having already been convicted of felony larceny, faces a minimum sentence of three years in prison.
(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 70.00, 70.06, 70.10, 70.15, 80.00, 80.05, 155.25, 155.30, 155.35, 155.40, 155.42 (2020).)
Like many states, New York shoplifting laws provide for both criminal and civil penalties.
New York penalizes shoplifting as a larceny offense. The criminal penalties for shoplifting are based on the value of the merchandise involved. See above for larceny penalties. Although many states treat shoplifting as a misdemeanor, it's not difficult to see how quickly shoplifting can become a serious felony in New York. A person who steals an item worth more than $1,000, such as a smartphone, faces felony penalties.
In addition to shoplifting, New York also punishes criminal possession of an anti-security item (like a coated bag or security tag remover), when the person intends to use the device to steal merchandise. This offense is a class B misdemeanor and carries up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.
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:
(N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 11-105; N.Y. Penal Law §§ 70.15, 80.05, 170.47 (2020).)
If you've been charged with larceny or a related offense, such as embezzlement or shoplifting, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can guide you through the local court process, explain your constitutional rights, and discuss any potential defenses for your unique circumstances.