New York Shoplifting Lawyers Discuss Theft and Larceny Laws New York shoplifting lawyer Man Stealing Purse

In general, the laws of New York categorize shoplifting as “petit larceny,” which is codified within Section 155.25 of the New York Penal Code. While the crime of petit larceny is considered a misdemeanor, it may be enhanced to a grand larceny charge depending upon the value of the goods allegedly stolen. If you are facing any sort of theft or shoplifting charge under New York law, we encourage you to immediately contact an experienced and diligent New York shoplifting lawyer in order to preserve and protect your rights. As explained further below, a theft or shoplifting charge on your permanent record may be extremely difficult to expunge and can cause significant difficulty in obtaining employment throughout your life.

Shoplifting Defined Under New York Law

New York law maintains several degrees of larceny, beginning with the starting point known as petit larceny, explains a New York shoplifting lawyer. This crime is defined simply as follows:

“A person is guilty of petit larceny when he steals property.”

The Penal Code provides a more detailed description of general larceny in Section 155.05, describing the act as intentionally depriving another person of his or her lawful property. The term also includes wrongful obtaining or withholding of the property of another, which covers the scenario known as “receipt of stolen goods.”

From there, the Code attaches aggravating factors that, when applied to petit larceny, convert the charge into one of grand larceny. The specific grand larceny crimes are outlined below:

  • Grand larceny of the fourth degree: Property value exceeds $1,000 or consists of a public record, secret scientific material or is a debit or credit card. Fourth-degree grand larceny also includes taking property directly from a person (regardless of value), extortion or involves firearms, rifles or shotguns. Lastly, fourth-degree grand larceny covers theft of a motor vehicle valued in excess of $100.00, theft of a religious relic, scroll, or symbol, or theft of products used to make methamphetamine.
  • Grand larceny of the third degree: Property value exceeds $3,000 or the theft involves an automated teller machine (ATM).
  • Grand larceny of the second degree: Property value exceeds $50,000 or the property (of any value) is obtained through forceful, aggravated extortion (e.g., threats of violence or force).
  • Grand larceny of the first degree: Property value exceeds $1 million.

As you can see, a simple shoplifting charge can quickly escalate to a felony if certain facts are alleged by the prosecution. With regard to the value of the property involved in the crime, New York law imposes a “fair market value,” which is measured by the value of the property at the time and location of the crime. If this value cannot be ascertained, the value will be determined by the cost of replacing the item within a reasonable time following the commission of the crime.

Alternative Theft Crimes

New York law also maintains several other theft crimes on the books, many of which include significant fines, penalties, and jail time upon conviction. One such crime, known as embezzlement, involves the intentional conversion of lawfully detained property to unlawfully detained property. In other words, an individual may face a charge of embezzlement if he or she lawfully possessed an item and, through some chain of events, continued to possess the item in violation of the rights of the true owner. For example, a valet responsible for parking vehicles is permitted to drive the vehicle from the restaurant to the parking space. However, taking the vehicle off the property and driving away could be considered embezzlement, advises a New York shoplifting lawyer.

Fraud is another alternative theft crime, and defendants may face this charge under New York law by obtaining the property of another using deception or misrepresentation. Common fraud crimes include identity theft or engaging in scams against vulnerable individuals.

Penalties for Theft

The penalties for a theft crime in New York vary upon the severity of the offense and, of course, the value of the items stolen, says a New York shoplifting lawyer. A general misdemeanor petit larceny charge carries a maximum jail sentence of up to one year, which is unlikely if the offender has a clear, or near-clear, criminal background. From there, larceny convictions carry felony-level penalties, including incarceration up to 25 years for the non-violent B felony of first-degree grand larceny. The court will always take into account an offender’s violent and non-violent criminal history, enhancing or reducing the sentence accordingly. Moreover, an offender may be required to pay restitution to the theft victim as a condition of probation or completion of a sentence.

Defenses to a Shoplifting Charge

Our New York shoplifting lawyers are especially astute in asserting dispositive and affirmative defenses on behalf of our clients. As with most criminal charges, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to commit the act in question, eliminating the possibility that the item was taken by accident or unintentionally. If there is any doubt as to the intentional nature of the theft offense, your attorney will assert this defense on your behalf. If you are facing a felony grand larceny charge, your attorney can argue as to the valuation of the item, which could reduce your charge if the alleged stolen property was assigned an inflated value by the prosecution.

Contact Our Tenacious New York Shoplifting Lawyers Today

If you are facing a petit or grand larceny charge in New York, our New York shoplifting lawyers can help you mount a credible and thorough defense against the state’s charges. As always, you are best served by contacting an attorney as soon as possible following your charge to avoid unnecessary unrepresented interaction with state law enforcement officials and attorneys. For more information about how a New York shoplifting lawyer can help keep your criminal record intact, contact attorney Frederick L. Sosinsky by calling (212) 285-2270 today.