While many instances of theft seem simple enough, there is actually much more going on in any given theft from a legal point of view whether you are charged with any degree of Grand Larceny or Petit Larceny. Under New York law, and as your criminal defense attorney can further explain, these offenses largely come down to a person’s intent. As a given case or scenario gets more and more complicated, a person’s intent becomes more and more difficult to discern from their actions. This is especially apparent in so-called New York White Collar crimes or allegations of criminal offenses in the context of banking or financial transactions.
What is “stealing” you ask? A mere taking of someone’s property without their permission or authority? Yes, in part, but actually much, much more. While those unfamiliar with the criminal law may see theft, larceny and stolen property related crimes through their own respective lenses, the New York Penal Law defines these offenses – Petit Larceny, Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property – with elements that every prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt and every criminal defense lawyer actively challenges to prevent the District Attorney from doing so.
Drafted by the legislature into Penal Law 155.05(1), to violate either misdemeanor Petit Larceny or any degree of felony Grand Larceny, you must have the intent to deprive another person of his or her property or appropriate the same for yourself or another party. Not only must you have this goal when taking the property, but you in fact must do so successfully and wrongfully.
In this day and age, with computerized banking and depositing checks on a cell phone, jurisdiction in the context of financial crimes becomes a more and more difficult question for judges, criminal lawyers and prosecutors alike. This is even more pronounced in the New York City metropolitan area with multiple states and jurisdictions in close proximity including Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. This jurisdiction issue raises its proverbial head when conduct occurs outside of New York, but the impact of that criminal behavior or act is felt by a resident in this state. Not an atypical scenario, a recent decision by a Queens County Supreme Court Judge, Criminal Term, further clarifies when District Attorneys have the authority to prosecute fraud and theft related cases despite the alleged conduct occurring elsewhere.
As set forth in New York Penal Law 155.05(1), the hallmark of any arrest involving misdemeanor Petit Larceny or felony Grand Larceny is that no matter the taking or the nature of the property involved, an accused must also have the intent to deprive another person of that property or, alternatively, appropriate the same to him or herself. In non-legal terms, if an accused takes another person’s wallet from their hand, $100 in cash from their pocket, or diamond encrusted tiara from their head and instead of running off to squirrel it away or sell it, for example, he or she merely tosses it on the ground and walks away, prosecutors may not prove a larceny related arrest beyond a reasonable doubt. While clearly an issue of fact as to intent, before any judge or jury can render a verdict, the District Attorney, aka, the “People,” must establish the element of either “deprive” or “appropriate” as defined in Penal Law 155.00. As demonstrated in the below case, albeit an extreme and grotesque example of a moral failing, failure to do so can be fatal to any larceny offense.
The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) is a landmark piece of federal legislation. The FCPA deals with payoffs and kickbacks made by certain kinds of financial service professionals to foreign government officials relating to securing more business. In recent years, compliance and enforcement agencies such as the SEC have seemingly increased their focus under this law on the domestic financial services industry, and the actual banks and executives themselves. One of the two key aspect of the FCPA, and the one most relevant to both you and your attorney, is the component that deals with bribery. The law prohibits U.S. Individuals and businesses from offering or providing anything of value to a foreign government official with the intent to influence, award business or gain an unfair advantage.
New York City, more than anywhere in the nation, is the venue for criminal prosecutions of financial professionals such as investment bankers, Wall Street traders, and compliance professionals. These kinds of cases might as well be considered a completely separate area of law from the more typical criminal practice involving the defense of charges such as Assault, Burglary, Criminal Possession of a Weapon, and the like. For one, understanding the financial markets and how they are regulated is often critical, as well as understanding the kinds of collateral consequences that such a person faces, as with FINRA, that may not be present in the context of the “average” arrest and criminal defendant. Whether you hold a series 3, series 6, series 7 or another certification, you, and more importantly your criminal attorney, must be aware of the legal and professional consequences before, not after, your case comes to a close.
From corporate enterprises and families to small businesses to the New York State government, budgets always seem to get tighter and tighter. By no means an excuse to commit a crime of deceit or fraud, it is far from atypical to hear of investigations and arrests involving Criminal Tax Fraud as set for New York State Tax Law Article 1800. With penalties in terms of dollars and prison looming overhead, what may be a simple mistake has the potential to devolve into a felony with crippling consequences. Whether through a criminal lawyer versed in tax crimes and laws or on your own, to best prevent yourself from running afoul of any of these statutes, and particularly a “tax fraud act” defined in New York State Tax Law 1801, knowledge is key. Serving only as a cursory analysis of the various criminal offenses associated with failing to remit, providing materially false or fraudulent information on a return, evading taxes and other misconduct, this entry will briefly address when Criminal Tax Fraud is also violates the Grand Larceny statute found in Article 155 of the New York Penal Law.
Generally, the New York Penal Law is clear as it relates to Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and aggregating the value of that property from different complainants. That is, if, for example, you had a stolen iPhone, guitar, and cash from three different people, each item could constitute a separate crime of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. So, if the iPhone was worth $850, the guitar $650, and the cash totaled $100, are prosecutors “stuck” merely charging a defendant with three misdemeanor offenses? Instead, might a District Attorney add all of this property together for one count of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law 165.45? Because possessing stolen property exceeding $1,000.00 is a class “E” felony, it certainly behooves the District Attorney to charge you not with three counts of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree, New York Penal Law 165.40, but one crime that carries more weight. All of this said, whether a prosecutor wants to charge a particular offense does not mean that he or she can. So…can the District Attorney aggregate the value of multiple pieces of allegedly stolen property in your possession belonging to different complainants? The short answer, and one you will likely discuss further with your criminal lawyer, is “yes.”
There are plenty of questions a person asks him or herself when detained by store security after being accused of shoplifting a Whole Foods, Macys, Century 21, Bloomingdales or even the neighborhood bodega. What is the penalty for shoplifting in New York? Is Petit Larceny a felony? How likely is jail time for a PL 155.25 arrest? Simply, these inquiries can be summed up into one general question. That is, what happens when you are arrested for shoplifting and what is the process? The answer to this question depends on numerous factors often dictated by whether you are a first time offender and whether you are accused of felony shoplifting pursuant to the Grand Larceny statute or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property or your shoplifting arrest is of a misdemeanor variety. The following entry provides some context to New York shoplifting arrests that should provide the framework for further consultation with your shoplifting attorney.
Do you need an attorney if you have been arrested for shoplifting in New York City? Do I need legal counsel for an arrest at the Palisades Mall or The Westchester charging me with shoplifting in Rockland County or Westchester County respectively? The short answer is an easy one. Yes. The bigger question about why you should retain a criminal defense lawyer deserves more scrutiny. That is, are you charged with misdemeanor Petit Larceny, PL 155.25, or a felony offense relating to either Fourth or Third Degree Grand Larceny, PL 155.30 and PL 155.35 respectively? Arrest aside, what are the consequences to your career? Are you a teacher or other professional employed by the NYC Department of Education, a broker-dealer regulated by FINRA and required to fill to report your arrest on a U4, or a foreign student with issues associated with your visa? Simply, while the arrest itself may, or may not be, manageable, when deciding whether to hire a legal advocate there are many things to consider well beyond what will happen in a courtroom.