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By Michael Arbeit
Founding Attorney

New York law defines larceny as the act of stealing property. This happens when someone intending to take something that belongs to someone else or to give it to another person wrongfully takes, gets, or keeps that property from its rightful owner. In other words, “larceny” is simply another term for theft.

There are several ways someone can commit larceny, including by:

  • Taking something that doesn’t belong to them, tricking someone into giving them property, embezzling, or lying to get property under false pretenses
  • Taking control of lost property without trying to return it, which includes finding something that’s lost or taking something given by mistake and not making an effort to give it back
  • Writing a bad check, knowing there’s not enough money in the account to cover it
  • Making a false promise, which involves lying about doing something in the future to get property from someone else without the intention of keeping the promise
  • Extortion, which means forcing or scaring someone into giving up property by threatening to hurt them, damage their property, or do anything else that could harm them or their reputation
  • Wage theft, which is when an employer doesn’t pay an employee the wages they have earned, including minimum wages and overtime pay

Larceny Offenses in New York

In New York, the law classifies larceny into various offenses based on the value of the stolen property and the circumstances under which the theft occurs. These offenses include:

  • Petit Larceny: Petit larceny occurs when someone steals property. It is a class A misdemeanor.
  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree: Someone commits grand larceny in the fourth degree when they steal property that is worth over $1,000, steal specific items, or steal under certain conditions. This can include stealing public records, credit cards, or firearms or stealing by extortion. This crime is a class E felony.
  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree: Grand larceny in the third degree involves stealing property worth more than $3,000 or stealing an automated teller machine (ATM) or its contents. This offense is a class D felony.
  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree: This crime involves stealing property worth over $50,000 or obtaining any property through extortion or misuse of a public servant position. Grand larceny in the second degree is a class C felony.
  • Grand Larceny in the First Degree: Grand larceny in the first degree takes place when someone steals property worth more than one million dollars. It is a class B felony.
  • Aggravated Grand Larceny of an ATM: This crime happens when someone commits grand larceny in the third degree by stealing an ATM or its contents and has been convicted of the same crime within the last five years. Aggravated grand larceny of an ATM is a class C felony.

Defense Strategies for Larceny Charges in New York

The right defense can significantly affect the outcome of a larceny case, potentially leading to reduced charges or even a full dismissal. Here are some defense strategies a knowledgeable attorney might use:

  • Claim of RightThis defense involves arguing that you believed, in good faith, that you had the right to the property you took. It requires showing that this belief was genuine and not fabricated as an excuse after the fact.
  • Extortion with Belief of Wrongdoing – In cases where larceny involves extortion, a valid defense could be that you genuinely thought the other person had committed a wrong that could lead to legal charges. You must also prove that your only intention was to make the other person correct that wrong.
  • Lack of Intent – Proof of intent is essential for larceny charges to stick. Demonstrating that you did not intend to steal the property can be a powerful defense. This might involve showing that your taking of the property was accidental or the result of a misunderstanding.
  • Consent – If you can prove that the owner of the property gave consent for you to use or take it, this can be a viable defense against allegations of theft.
  • Return of Property – Sometimes, returning the property before being charged can be used as part of a larger defense strategy to show a lack of intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. 

Reach Out to A New York Criminal Defense Attorney For Immediate Assistance with Your Case

Individuals facing larceny charges in New York have several potential defenses at their disposal. However, each case is unique, and the effectiveness of a defense depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the alleged crime. By working closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can effectively navigate the legal process and strive for the most favorable outcome in your case. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office for guidance and representation during this challenging time.

Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. assists clients throughout Long Island including Nassau County, Suffolk County, Garden City, and New York, including Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and The Bronx.

About the Author
Michael A. Arbeit, P.C. is devoted to all Criminal Defense and  Traffic related matters.  Michael practices primarily in the Criminal and County (Supreme) Courts in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Kings County, New York County and the Bronx County.  Michael is also licensed to practice law in the Federal Courts of the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) and the Southern District of New York (SDNY).