Petit Larceny is a misdemeanor not a felony, right? After all, New York wouldn’t call New York Penal Law 155.25 “Petty Larceny” if it was a felony crime. Even if you look at New York’s Larceny statutes in New York Penal Law Article 155.00, Petit Larceny, codified as NY PL 155.25, doesn’t have any degree where other theft offenses often have degrees. For that matter, it seems to make sense if Grand Larceny is a felony, then Petit Larceny is a misdemeanor.
The New York Martin Act, New York General Business Law Section 352 and 352-C, is a state statute in New York that provides for civil and criminal penalties for securities fraud. The Martin Act is analogous to federal and other state securities fraud statutes, with certain key differences. One of those key differences is that the Martin Act does not require proof of an intent to defraud, or proof of intent to deceive or mislead, in order to charge and convict a person of a crime under the statute, punishable by up to one year in jail. However, if such intent is established, the charges under the Martin Act can be elevated to a felony punishable by state prison time.
This lack of an intent to defraud requirement becomes especially relevant where the Martin Act charges are based on non-disclosure. Generally speaking, it is much more difficult for a prosecutor to prove that a person had the intent to mislead an investor by not providing information that it is to prove that intent based on affirmatively providing false information. Doing away with any requirement that an intent to deceive be alleged or proven removes this hurdle from a prosecutor’s path to conviction. The following touches on this non-disclosure issue.
You possess a $15,000.00 Rolex watch without the permission of the owner. You have an iPhone belonging to another person and he or she never gave you permission or authority to possess it. Certainly, if the owner never gave you the right to take, possess or have his or her property, whatever it may be and irrespective of its value, the fact that you possessed that property without a right to do so is proof of your guilt of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property pursuant to New York Penal Law Article 165? Although much depends on how prosecutors draft an accusatory instrument, without more than asserting you didn’t have permission, your criminal lawyer may successfully secure a dismissal of the complaint alleging Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.
In pertinent part, you are guilty of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property when you both knowingly possess the stolen property and when you do so with the purpose or objective to benefit yourself or a third party or, alternatively, to prevent the recovery of the property by the rightful owner. Just like Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny, if the amount or value of the property in question exceeds $1,000, $3,000, $50,000 or $1,000,000 the degree of the felony is enhanced in severity.
Larceny crimes are fairly straight forward in New York State much like any other jurisdiction. If you steal property, irrespective of its value, and your intention is to keep it for yourself or from the rightful owner or possessor, you have committed either a Petit Larceny or a Grand Larceny as set forth in Article 155 of the New York Penal Law. Similarly, if you possess that property, knowing it is stolen and with the same intent to take it or prevent the rightful custodian from getting it back, then you are guilty of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property pursuant to Article 165 of the New York Penal Law.
The question or issues posed in this blog entry is how far you must go in your theft or possession of stolen property for a judge or jury to find you guilty of the same. In other words, what steps must you take or how far must you go to violate the law as either an attempted offense or a completed crime?
When you are a professional and your career depends on your name and character, the mere allegations of an arrest can be devastating. An allegation is often the equivalent to a conviction. Whether you work in banking and finance, you are regulated by FINRA or the FDIC, you are an attorney of physician that maintains a professional license, or the product you sell is “you,” an arrest in New York for a crime of fraud, deceit or theft is life altering in the most adverse way. Recently, a client arrested for stealing clothing from Bergdorf Goodmans in Manhattan faced such a embarrassing dilemma when she was accused of shoplifting gloves retailing for well north of $1,000.00. Technically a felony shoplift as a class “E” felony of Fourth Degree Grand Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.30, our client was fortunate enough to receive a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) for Petit Larceny, a class “A” misdemeanor. While the criminal complaint ultimately reflected Penal Law 155.25 and Penal Law 165.40, the latter offense is Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, the crimes our client faced technically involved felonies due to the value of the clothing our client was accused of shoplifting after our client exited the store without paying for the property.
Despite the magnitude of potential felony charges, the uncertainty of what might happen to our client’s otherwise pristine and clean record, the New York criminal defense attorneys and shoplifting defense lawyers at Crotty Saland PC delivered the best result possible for our client in this New York City shoplifting arrest. No, our client did not receive a Disorderly Conduct or ACD on the PL 155.25 and PL 165.40 arrest, but instead the case was both dismissed and sealed unconditionally.
Depending how aggressive or creative a District Attorney gets, sometimes what is one simple act becomes multiple criminal charges from the onset of an arrest or at some point during the prosecution. While the law allows an Assistant District Attorney in New York to supersede an information (criminal complaint) or present criminal charges to a Grand Jury that were not initially on a felony complaint, when such actions are taken a criminal defense lawyer must be on his or her respective “game.” Why? Some charges may be obvious on their faces but others not so much. Complicating matters, what may seem like a simply case with limited exposure can ultimately involve a crime with potentially significant consequences. People v. Gavrilov, 2015 Slip Op. 51562 (App. Term 2nd Dept. 2015) is such a case where the conduct and the charged crimes did not exactly coalesce. There, the defendant entered a vehicle and stole some property. Charged with Petit Larceny, New York Penal Law 155.25, and Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, New York Penal Law 165.40, the defendant also found himself facing Third Degree Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle, New York Penal Law 165.05. Although not a more serious offense, a very interesting question was raised. Did prosecutors overreach by charging the defendant with PL 165.05 or does wrongfully entering and stealing from a vehicle also violate the Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle statute?
Most people rightfully think a larceny or theft occurs when they wrongfully and without permission steal or take someone’s property. Usually, but not always, that person refuses to return the property or simply doesn’t tell the victim that he or she took it in the first place. Simply, the rightful owner lost his or her television, mobile phone, car, or good old fashion cash forever. However, in New York, a theft or larceny need not be a permanent taking. In fact, it need not be a taking at all in the common way we think about such acts. According to the New York Penal Law and the plethora of cases that analyze and interpret it (please note the shout out to the “Three Amigos”), a police officer can arrest, District Attorney prosecute and judge or jury convict you of a crime if you fail to return property. How you ask? New York Penal Law 155.05(2)(b) specifically addresses how one can be charged with a Petit Larceny or Grand Larceny Crime in New York when one acquires lost property.
No, there is not a crime of cell phone theft, iPhone stealing or smart phone heist in the New York Penal Law. However, merely because there is no specific statute addressing cell phones, mobile phones, smart phones and other personal devices such as iPads does not mean there is no crime or crimes that occur when one is stolen. On a base level, whenever you steal anything – from a pen or shoelace to a million dollars in cash or a diamond engagement ring – a larceny has occurred. Irrespective of value, the theft is a Petit Larceny and the possession of the property is Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree as set forth in New York Penal Law 155.25 and New York Penal Law 165.40 respectively. These offenses are both class “A” misdemeanors.
Putting behind the misdemeanor crimes the NYPD will arrest you for and a District Attorney will prosecute, the following entry will briefly examine some crimes for cell phone theft routinely seen by New York criminal lawyers and defense attorneys throughout New York City District Attorney’s Offices in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx as well as other prosecutors’ offices elsewhere in suburban counties such as Westchester, Rockland, Putnam and Dutchess.
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?
While most people think of larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in two or three general ways – shoplifting, embezzlement or some scheme to steal money – perception is not reality. As a New York criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney I have personally defended or prosecuted a wide variety of thefts that range from complicated schemes involving multiple people and millions of dollars to incidents as “simple” as a person stealing a laptop from bar or restaurant. In most cases, the dollar amount of the property regardless of its nature or type is the controlling factor as to the severity of the crime. For example, when the value of the property is more than $1,000 then the offense is a Fourth Degree Grand Larceny or Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property pursuant to New York Penal Law 155.30 and 165.45 respectively. Class “E” felonies, these crimes would not be applicable if the dollar amounts were less or more. In those cases the applicable crime to charge could be Petit Larceny or Fifth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property on the lower end and higher degree felony for values exceeding $3,000, $50,000 or $1 million. Similarly, when a theft or larceny involves a specific type of property, such as a credit card, secret scientific material, a firearm or certain vehicles, then the offense is automatically a felony even if the financial threshold has not been met.
Continuing with the vehicle theme, while the following case is not one of those that is based on vehicle type and value as specified in PL 155.30(8) and PL 165.45(5), it is a bit off from the normal context of these types of crimes. Why is it worth blogging about? Because the case represents that whether or not you subjectively believe something has value or your conduct is not an extortion, embezzlement or shoplift, a judge or jury can still convict you for a felony crime. You’ve been warned.