In the State of New York from Manhattan to Buffalo, Brooklyn to Syracuse and Queens to White Plains, the New York Penal Law reigns supreme. While each Judicial Department (there are four) may interpret the law differently, when the Court of Appeals rules, its decision must be followed by all prosecutors, criminal lawyers and judges throughout the Empire State. Regardless of whether you are arrested in New York City or Yonkers, if you are accused of a Grand Larceny or Petit Larceny the law mandates that it occur through one of the statutorily recognized means outlined in New York Penal Law 155.05(2)(a). Charged with PL 155.25, PL 155.30, PL 155.35 or faced with any other arrest for any larceny crime or degree, the wrongful taking must occur by common law larceny by trespassory taking, common law larceny by trick, embezzlement, or obtaining property by false pretenses.
Most value based theft crimes share the same elements as one another outside of the necessity that the property in question reach a certain amount to raise the level of the offense. For example, Petit Larceny involves property valued at $1,000 or less while First Degree Grand Larceny requires that the property stolen be worth more than $1,000,000. Putting aside Grand Larceny crimes in New York that are item or object specific, stealing a credit card for example is automatically a felony of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, the underlying elements are generally the same. You can look to NY PL 155.25, NY PL 155.30, NY PL 155.35 or an of the larceny crimes of the New York Penal Law and the common elemental bond is that you are guilty of larceny when you steal property. Taking this analysis one step further, Penal Law 155.05(1) mandates that “[a] person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.”
With these definitions in hand, the question presented by this particular blog is whether or not merely depriving someone of their property is sufficient to constitute a crime of larceny – Petit or Grand. Further, must the taking be permanent, for a long frame time or some other lesser period?
Yes, when it rains it pours. No, not just pours, but it comes down in hail like driving sheets of rain. From catching a flight out of Russia to the United States expecting to traipse around Gotham before heading elsewhere to getting whisked away in handcuffs by the NYPD to the “Tombs” of Manhattan Central Booking, Svetlana Zakharova is arguably soaked to her core. What was initially described by the media as an attempt to extort approximately $50,000 from Eliot Spitzer, was in fact an actual and completed Grand Larceny by Extortion. According to the allegations leveled by a Bronx prosecutor serving as a special prosecutor on behalf of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Zahkarova succeeded in scaring the heck out of Client 9 to the point that he paid his alleged extorter $400,000.
Armed with the new allegations provided at Zakharova’s arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court, the presiding judge set bail to the tune of $1 million. Right or wrong, excessive or not, not only will Zakharova have time to put her defense together, but selfishly I can now leisurely put my rambling thoughts together to offer a brief analysis of the crimes Zakharova faces.
Eliot Spitzer, the onetime New York State Governor and Attorney General, has once again found himself immersed in controversy. According to reports, however, the new tabloid fodder is not centered around alleged wrongdoing on the part of Client 9, but his alleged Attempted Extortion and Blackmail by Svetlana Zakharova, aka, Svetlana Travis. More specifically, Zakharova (Travis) had claimed that Spitzer met her in February 2016 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City where he choked and pushed her inside one of the rooms. Although merely speculation, it was reported that Travis worked as a high end Russian call girl and escort for as much as $5,000.00 a night. Despite Travis’ claims, after making the report to the police she refused to cooperate and returned to Russia. At some point she made financial demands of Spitzer who in turn initiated a civil suit against Travis only later dropping it.
Although I am not privy to the NYPD’s and Manhattan District Attorney’s investigation that led to the arrest of Svetlana Travis, the law of Extortion does not change from case to case. Instead, evidence must fit into the legal parameters of this crime. This blog entry will address this Grand Larceny offense and how the facts as they may be satisfy the elements of this alleged crime and conduct.
The difference between a felony larceny arrest when compared to a misdemeanor larceny crime in New York is significant. After all, felonies are crimes that are more likely to negatively impact professional licenses, immigration statuses, and other privileges and rights. Further a Grand Larceny conviction, as opposed to a Petit Larceny conviction, carries a greater potential term of incarceration. In New York, for example, a PL 155.25 (Petit Larceny) conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail while a PL 155.30 (Fourth Degree Grand Larceny) or PL 155.35 (Third Degree Grand Larceny) conviction is punishable by up to four years and seven years in a New York State prison respectively. Other Grand Larceny crimes such as Second or First Degree Grand Larceny are punishable by even greater years of incarceration.
What the above information highlights is the fact that should you face an arrest or indictment for a larceny crime in New York, one of the critical questions you should ask is whether or not the dollar amount of the theft can be decreased thereby lowering the degree of the crime. In concrete terms, can a Third Degree Grand Larceny be reduced to a Fourth Degree Grand Larceny or a Fourth Degree Grand Larceny be knocked down to a Petit Larceny? The following blog entry will analyze the aggregation scenario where crimes can be increased or enhanced and one worthy of discussing with your own criminal lawyer in the event it is on point with your case.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor Petit Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.25, or a more serious felony including Grand Larceny in the Fourth, Third or even greater degree, New York Penal Law 155.30 and 155.35 respectively, there are certain common elements that prosecutors must establish beyond a reasonable doubt. While a conviction for PL 155.25 may “only” carry a sentence of up to one year in jail where as a conviction for PL 155.30 or PL 155.35 may be punishable by as great as four or seven years respectively, each arrest stemming from an Article 155 allegation requires the same degree of attention. The hurdle of legal sufficiency must always be overcome by prosecutors and challenged by your criminal defense attorney. This blog entry will address one of those elements or mandatory traits of a viable PL 155.25, PL 155.30, PL 155.35, PL 155.40 or PL 155.42 arrest. That is, it is it enough for a District Attorney to establish your intent to temporarily use another’s property or must they establish your intent to permanently deprive an owner of the same?
No matter how long your criminal defense lawyer or criminal defense attorney has practiced in the courts of New York, every criminal trial he or she faces is unique and can have complex legal issues. During a criminal trial a defendant may be charged with multiple crimes and the jury may find the defendants guilty of, all, none or an assortment of crimes charges but not all of them. After the verdict is issued, a criminal defense attorney can argue that the verdict should be overturned for various reasons. Two potential ways your criminal lawyer can challenge a verdict is if the verdict is legally repugnant or legally insufficient.
A jury verdict is legally repugnant if the verdict is inherently inconsistent when viewed in light of the elements of each crime as charged to the jury. The repugnancy claim can be a useful legal tool when the jury verdict is inconsistent with the elements of the crime and should be used to overturn inherently inconsistent verdicts. People v. Forde illuminates some of the issues that can arise when a legal repugnancy or a legal sufficiency claim is made.
Every element of every crime is equally important. Irrespective of the charge you face, prosecutors in New York City, Westchester County or anywhere else in the State of New York must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt. This is no different if you you are charged with Grand Larceny as codified in Article 150 of the New York Penal Law or a violent offense of Assault as codified in Article 120 of the New York Penal Law. Addressing the former offense of Grand Larceny, one of the elements that an Assistant District Attorney must prove to a jury or a judge at trial is that the value of the alleged property you allegedly stole exceeds either $1,000.00, $3,000.00, $50,000.00 or $1,000,000.00. Simply, value is an essential element of any Grand Larceny crime that your criminal lawyer or criminal defense attorney will vigorously challenge. If a judge or jury agrees with you, as opposed to the prosecutor, then either the trial will end in an acquittal or a conviction for a lesser criminal offense. Where a case involves cash or money, your attorney’s task may be quite difficult, but how is value assessed (or challenged) when the value of the property in question is not easily quantified?
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. is at it again. No, Vance’s band of prosecutorial marauders have not just hopped, skipped and jumped from county to county or state to state, but Vance’s seemingly infinitely long appendages have grabbed yet another alleged fraudster. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office website, junior Ponzi schemer and United States Naval Academy graduate, Bryan Caisse, duped friends and former classmates out of more than $1 million when law enforcement finally caught up to him in airport in Bogotá, Colombia. Although in the aggregate the crime(s) exceeded $1,000,000, and therefore could be the basis of a First Degree Grand Larceny arrest, Caisse dodged a proverbial bullet. Instead, it appears that DA Vance’s minions charged Caisse with multiple lesser offenses including Second Degree Grand Larceny and Third Degree Grand Larceny on an individual basis. Of course, avoiding mandatory state prison on a plea or conviction of First Degree Grand Larceny is a hollow victory. There is no doubt prosecutors will ask for, and many judges would sentence, a term of incarceration in a New York State prison.
Prosecutors claim that commencing sometime in 2008, Caisse said he was going to start a company, Huxley Capital Management. Friends and former classmates contributed and gave Caisse more than $1 million. What is right out of Bernie Maddoff’s DIY handbook, it is alleged that Caisse pocket the money for such items as rental payments, car services, personal debts, credit cards, cash withdrawals, and restaurants. Ultimately, when the the “investors” sought repayment, Caisse couldn’t deliver. Prosecutors have gone as far as to assert that Caisse even claimed he was in a car accident to avoid repayment. Unfortunately for some of the investors, it is believed only some folks were paid back from stolen proceeds of others.
If being accused of a New York felony isn’t scary enough, being arrested for a felony crime where your immigration status stands in the balance certainly is. A Crotty Saland PC client accused of stealing more than $100,000 and attempting to steal an additional $275,000 from a client of the bank he managed, faced such fears. Fortunately for our client, however, despite being arrested for Attempted Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 110/155.40) and accused of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 155.40), our client ultimately resolved his arrests with a misdemeanor plea to Petit Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.25). A misdemeanor, our client received the equivalent of “time served.” Throughout the entire process since our client’s arrest, prosecutors offered or recommended felony pleas that included as much as six years in prison. If convicted, our client faced an even greater sentence.
Before continuing, and by way of background, a person is guilty of Second Degree Grand Larceny (NY PL 155.40) if and when that person steals property (money, for example) and the value of the property is greater than $50,000, but does not exceed $1,000,000. Obviously, an Attempted Second Degree Grand Larceny (NY PL 110/155.40) is an attempt to commit this crime. A completed Grand Larceny in the Second Degree carries a punishment and sentence of up to five to fifteen years in prison for a first time offender while an attempt to commit that crime carries a sentence of up to two and one third to seven years in prison.