New York Laws on Petit and Grand Larceny and Shoplifting

The basics on petit and grand larceny offenses and penalties in New York.

By , Attorney

New York's larceny statute covers a broad range of prohibited conduct, including theft, embezzlement, larceny by trick, false pretenses, acquiring lost property, and taking property by extortion.

Defining Larceny Under New York Law

New York defines larceny as the wrongful taking or withholding of another's property with the intent to "deprive" them of their property. Larceny offenses also include:

  • stealing by trick or embezzlement
  • obtaining property by false pretenses or false promises
  • acquiring lost property, and
  • taking property by extortion.

Property is defined broadly and includes any money, personal or real property, computer data or program, utilities, and other items of value.

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.

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.

Petit Larceny in New York

The lowest-level larceny offense in New York is called petit larceny, which 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.

Grand Larceny in New York

Larceny becomes a felony-level offense—or grand larceny—when the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000 or the crime involves specific types of property or acts. In addition to prison time, all grand larceny offenses can be punished with a fine in the amount of $5,000 or double the offender's gain from the crime.

Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree NY

The crime of fourth-degree grand larceny covers several different types of theft—the most common of which involve stolen property when:

  • the value of the property is over $1,000
  • the property consists of a credit or debit card
  • the property is taken from the person of another or obtained by extortion using threats to harm another's reputation or business
  • the property is a firearm, rifle, or shotgun, or
  • the property is a motor vehicle worth over $100.

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.

Grand Larceny in the Third Degree NY

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.

Grand Larceny in the Second Degree NY

A person commits second-degree grand larceny 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.

Grand Larceny in the First Degree NY

A person is guilty of first-degree grand larceny when the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000,000. The law classifies this crime as a class B felony, which carries up to 25 years in prison and a fine.

Sentencing Enhancements for Repeat Offenders

New York law provides for increased penalties for repeat offenders. Defendants convicted of a repeat grand larceny offense 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, 155.00, 155.05, 155.25, 155.30, 155.35, 155.40, 155.42 (2022).)

Shoplifting Penalties in New York

Like many states, New York shoplifting laws provide for both criminal and civil penalties.

Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting NY

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.) Shoplifting items worth less than $1,000 is a class A misdemeanor. But these offenses can quickly become felonies in New York. Stealing merchandise valued at more than $1,000, like a smartphone, carries felony penalties and possible prison time.

It's also a crime to possess an anti-security item (like a coated bag or security tag remover) with the intent of using the device to steal merchandise. This offense is a class B misdemeanor and carries up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.

Civil Penalties for Shoplifting NY

In addition to criminal penalties, 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 $75 or five times the retail price (with a cap of $500), whichever is greater.

(N.Y. Gen. Oblig. Law § 11-105; N.Y. Penal Law §§ 70.15, 80.05, 170.47 (2022).)

Talk to a Lawyer

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.

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