Petit Larceny in New York
Petit larceny is a broad crime that is all-encompassing. While it is a seemingly minor crime, it can still tarnish your reputation. If you are charged with petit larceny, you need a skilled legal team to help you fight the charges and navigate your options. Our lawyers can help you understand what the petit larceny charges mean and how different outcomes will impact you.
We also understand the complicated relationships between petit larceny and other related crimes. Whether you opt to take a plea or fight the charges in court, working with an experienced attorney can help make the whole stressful ordeal as easy as possible.
What Puts A Person Or Entity At Risk of Prosecution?
Larceny is any crime in which a person takes something from another person. It is a type of theft crime that can apply regardless of the specifics of how the person came to take the other person’s property. You can be at risk of prosecution for petit larceny no matter the value of the property stolen.
For example, if a person steals a wallet, even if there is no money in it, he or she is at risk of prosecution for petit larceny. There is also a risk of prosecution, even if you do not keep the wallet, but give it to someone else.
There is even risk of being prosecuted if the wallet was not taken off another person, but found and not returned. For example, if a person finds a wallet and takes it home after they find money in it, he or she may face petit larceny charges. The issue is whether the person sought to deprive the owner of his or her property.
By taking the wallet home or taking the money out of it and leaving the wallet behind, the person demonstrated an intent to keep the property.
What Are The Statutes Related To Petit Larceny In New York?
New York law makes petit larceny a class A misdemeanor. If a person intentionally steals property, then he or she is guilty of petit larceny. Petit larceny is the least severe of the five levels of larceny crimes. After petit larceny, there is grand larceny, which can be charged at anywhere from first to fourth-degree.
The degree of the grand larceny depends on various aspects, such as:
- The value of the property
- The non-financial characteristics of the property
- The manner in which the property was obtained
The statute also defines what it means to “steal property.” For purposes of the statute, any action that keeps a person from rightful use or enjoyment of their property is stealing. Stealing includes:
- Taking property away without permission
- Preventing its owner from accessing the property
- Keeping found property found that belongs to someone else without making a reasonable effort to return it
- Using a trick, false promise, extortion, or embezzlement to obtain the property
The statute also specifies what property is and how the property should be valued. The property need not be tangible or of objective value, such as any real or personal property, software or data, natural resource, evidence of a business relationship, or anything of value.
To place value on the stolen property, the law specifies its market value at the time of the crime or the cost to replace it. Other types of property, especially intangible, may be valued based on economic loss or just assigned a value of $250.
What Are Some Related Crimes?
There is an additional type of grand larceny known as aggravated grand larceny of an automated teller machine (ATM), in which a person who has previously been convicted of grand larceny in the third-degree within the previous 5 years steals from an ATM. Petit larceny and grand larceny are only two of many types of theft crimes.
Another related crime is robbery. The elements of robbery are 1) use of or threat of force, and 2) commission of a larceny. The force or threat of force is for the purpose of avoiding resistance to taking the property or getting someone to give up the property. There are degrees of robbery, which depend on the level of force and the manner in which the crime is committed.
One manner in which a theft may occur is a crime in itself. New York law has a number of offenses involving fraud. In addition, the state statutes have created specific crimes for narrow situations. For example, there are a set of statutes related to theft that address the stripping of automobiles.
In federal law, there is no basic larceny crime. However, there are criminal statutes for robbery, burglary, embezzlement, and theft.
Within each of these statutes, there are laws for various circumstances including what property is taken (such as livestock or artwork,) and where a crime takes place (such as a maritime jurisdiction or post office), similar to the state statutes.
What Are Some Essential And Impactful Cases?
Courts have considered the elements of the crime of larceny as well as a number of procedural issues. One area considered in detail by the courts is the element of intent. These cases are essential and impactful to understanding prosecution for larceny.
Courts have confirmed that the intent in the commission of the crime must be an intent to deprive the rightful owner of the property permanently. In People v. Jennings, the court said the purpose needs to be permanent or virtually permanent deprivation for the rightful owner of the property.
The court also specified that temporary use without permission does not rise to the level of larceny.
However, the permanency requirement only applies to the deprivation intent. If a person takes something temporarily, but with the intent to deprive permanently, the elements of larceny are met. People v. Olivo considers the case of a shoplifter that moved merchandise without leaving the store within. The person did not gain control over the property permanently, but there was temporary control over those items when moving them, and the intent to deprive the store of the merchandise permanently.
What Agencies Detect And Investigate These Crimes In New York?
Petit larceny covers theft that may occur in a range of settings. Local police will likely investigate reports of any stolen property. Depending on the origination of the larceny charges, other investigators may be involved.
For example, for cases of Medicaid fraud, the New York State Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) and the Office of the Medicaid Fraud Inspector General (OMIG) investigate and audit. For tax evasion cases, the Department of Taxation and Finance audits with an investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division.
What Agencies Are Involved In Prosecuting These Crimes In New York?
In New York, these cases are prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office. The circumstances initiating the investigation will determine the group within the Attorney General’s office that prosecutes. For example, tax evasion will likely be prosecuted by an Assistant Attorney General from the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau.
For Medicaid fraud cases, the MFCU is part of the Attorney General’s Criminal Division. Health care fraud may also bring in federal agencies, along with Medicare and Medicaid and federal programs.
What Are The Statutory Penalties If You Are Convicted Of Petit Larceny?
Each larceny statute has specific penalties based on the degree of larceny. Petit larceny is a class A misdemeanor, which carries up to one-year imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000.
Grand larceny ranges from a class E felony for grand larceny in the fourth-degree and a class B felony for grand larceny in the first-degree. The statutory prison sentence ranges from one-year minimum to four years for class E, and 25 years for class B. The fine for a felony conviction can go up to $5,000.
What Are Some Of The Additional Consequences Of Being Convicted?
Conviction of any crime, including petit larceny, can be detrimental to your reputation. Having a conviction on your record can hinder future pursuits, such as job applications, and public roles. A criminal record can also be a detriment to your current career or professional license. The penalties associated with this crime can be disruptive and have a long-term impact.
Being imprisoned, even for a short period of time, will take you away from your life and loved ones. Lastly, there are the financial impacts of fines, restitution, and the costs of dealing with charges.
What Are Some Defenses To Petit Larceny?
There are a few defenses to larceny that are spelled out in the statute. First, a person can admit that he or she did take something, but did so based on a good faith belief that he or she had a right to take the property. This is an affirmative defense in which the defendant would have the burden of proving the existence of a claim of right in good faith.
Second, if a person committed larceny by threatening another person with criminal charges, it is a defense if there was a good faith belief that the actions charged as larceny were needed to avoid criminal charges.
This is another affirmative defense that puts the burden of proof on the defendant, who must show a good faith belief that: 1) the threatened criminal charges were real, and 2) the appropriation of the property was necessary to avoid those charges.
In addition to statutory affirmative defenses, a lawyer can help establish additional defenses for specific elements of the crime. As seen in the court cases associated with larceny, if there was no intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently, the crime of larceny is not established.
A lawyer can help evaluate these options and present evidence to strengthen the arguments.
Why Do You Need A Lawyer?
Any criminal charges can be stressful, costly, and time-consuming. A lawyer can help you navigate your options and put your mind at ease. If you are offered a plea deal, your legal team can help you understand how that arrangement will impact you and your family, and help determine if the plea deal is a good offer.
A lawyer can advocate on your behalf with investigators and prosecutors, increasing the likelihood of a resolution without having to go to court. Of course, if you go to court, you need a lawyer that understands the intricacies of larceny laws to present your defense.
Petit Larceny In The News
|Article #1:||A nurse was employed to provide services under her license as a practical nurse. She was supposed to provide private nursing services to a young adult with special needs.
Instead of providing the care she was committed to providing, she was charged with billing the Medicaid program for hours that were never used to provide care.
The fraudulent billing was done over the course of three months. Over that time, prosecutors said she claimed she provided hours of service and billed the program accordingly.
The fraud amounted to $3,841.40 of stolen money from the Medicaid program. The investigation and subsequent charge is part of a greater effort to find and combat Medicaid fraud in New York.
After being charged, the nurse accepted a guilty plea for petit larceny. The guilty plea came with no jail time, but instead, the nurse accepted three years of probation and agreed to pay restitution.
The restitution was the full amount of the fraudulently paid claims, or nearly $4,000.
|Article #2:||The office manager of the Armstrong Senior Living Center in Newark was found to be taking advantage of at least three residents of the facility.
In total, the defendant was found to have stolen a total of $11,828 from the three residents. The three cases were conducted slightly different, but all involved misappropriation of checks.
In one case, a resident received a check from his family, and the office manager took the check for herself. In the second case, the office manager took a blank check from the resident and made it out to herself to steal the resident’s money.
In the third case, there were forged checks that belonged to the resident. The office manager used those forged checks to obtain money.
The office manager took a plea deal for two counts of petit larceny and one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument.
Her sentence was 6 months of incarceration, five years of probation, restitution, and an order of protection.
These cases were investigated by the Newark Police Department, as well as the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.
Even though the office manager did not defraud the Medicaid program, it involved a facility that may come under the scrutiny of the same investigators under different circumstances.
|Article #3:||Two individuals created and ran a fraudulent employment agency in which they advertised jobs that did not exist. They required job seekers to pay fees for their non-existent job placement services.
The individuals impersonated job placement agents and made false promises of securing a new or steady job for the victims.
The defendants had been maintaining the fraudulent job placement agency under a number of names. The operation of each of these businesses was the same.
The agency promised the victims that there were opportunities for well-paid maintenance and cleaning jobs that had immediate openings.
The victims paid hundreds of dollars for fake application fees. They were then sent to wrong or fake addresses, non-existent employers, or real employers that had nothing to do with the fraudulent agency.
If the job seekers attempted to get their money back, the agency promised refunds and then vacated the office location so they victims could no longer find them.
They moved locations multiple times every time the fraud was exposed.
The investigation found dozens of incidences of fraudulent application fees collected over the course of about 10 months.
The investigation is ongoing, but included five charges of petit larceny and five felony fraud charges.
|Article #4:||The owner of the Buffalo Head Bar & Grill was charged for failing to file sales tax returns and pay over $59,000 that his business collected in sales tax.
These charges were the culmination of an audit New York State Department of Taxation and Finance and an investigation by the Department’s Criminal Investigations Division.
After that, it was referred to the Attorney General for investigation and prosecution.
The owner of the restaurant was the sole party responsible for filing quarterly sales tax returns and reporting all taxable sales.
Over the course of the 18 quarters for which the defendant owned the Buffalo Head Bar & Grill, he only submitted two sales tax returns.
An audit by the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance looked at his finances for the duration of the defendant’s ownership.
The audit found that the defendant had underreported the sales by nearly three-quarters of a million dollars, and had not paid $59,789.01 in sales tax.
The defendant took two pleas: one for a felony grand larceny and one for petit larceny. For the latter, he was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge. He also paid the unpaid sales tax as part of the plea agreement.
|Article #5:||This is another case of Medicaid fraud. The owner and operator of a Medicine Shoppe location pleaded guilty to stealing from the Medicaid program.
The defendant, a pharmacist, submitted claims to Medicaid for items that were never actually dispensed. As a result, these claims were fraudulent, and the reimbursement was stolen from Medicaid.
Over the course of almost three years, from January 2005 through December 2007, the pharmacist billed Medicaid for 18 drugs, treatments, and supplies that were never purchased.
The fraudulently obtained amount totaled $93,406.02. The pharmacist pleaded guilty to larceny and received three years of probation. She is also required to pay restitution.
The pharmacist was also the CEO of Utter Enterprises, Inc. The corporation also pleaded guilty, making it liable to pay the restitution with the pharmacist.
This prosecution was the result of investigative and auditing work from within the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. The Attorney General’s office prosecuted the case to secure the plea deal.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 155.25.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 155.05.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section§ 155.00.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 155.20.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section§ 155.43.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 160.00.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 170.00, et seq.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 165.09-11.
 18 U.S.C. Chapter 103.
 18 U.S.C. Chapter 31.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 70.15.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 80.05.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 70.00.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 80.00.
 N.Y. Penal Law Section 155.15.