Any conviction in New York for either Grand Larceny or felony Criminal Possession of Stolen Property carries the potential of serious imprisonment and incarceration. Even the “lowest” felony crimes – Fourth Degree Grand Larceny (New York Penal Law 155.30) and Fourth Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property (New York Penal Law 165.45) – have possible sentences of up to four years in prison. In other words, if you steal or knowingly possess stolen property worth a hair over $1,000 but no more than $3,000, jail is on the table in the eyes of the law.
Other than prison or jail, what are the financial ramifications, if any, involving restitution and fines and what is your exposure?
Before addressing fines, let’s take this opportunity to finish touching upon jail sentences for theft offenses. While incarceration may be unlikely for a person convicted of a Fourth Degree Grand Larceny or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property respectively if that person is a first time offender, the risk increases with the value of the stolen property, the nature of the offense and the higher the degree of the crime. Certainly, Thefts above $50,000 and $1,000,000, Second Degree Grand Larceny / Second Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property and First Degree Grand Larceny / First Degree Criminal Possession of Stolen Property respectively, put an offender in a much more precarious state when it comes to incarceration. In fact, both New York Penal Law 155.42 and New York Penal Law 165.54 statutorily have a mandatory minimum sentence of one to three years in prison and a maximum exposure of eight and one third to twenty five years in custody.
Armed with some understanding of imprisonment, irrespective of time in prison or jail, where and how do restitution and fines come into the criminal justice process? Simply, every defendant not only faces possible court ordered restitution for a theft conviction pursuant to any Article 155 or Article 165 offense, but potential fines as well. Pursuant to New York Penal Law 80.00, the sentencing court can fine a defendant five thousand dollars or double the amount of the defendant’s gain from their criminal conduct. However, the total amount fined cannot exceed the higher of these two calculations. As such, if you stole $7,500.00 and were convicted of this theft, the judge could fine you $5,000 or an amount not to exceed $15,000.00. Similarly, if the theft was $75,000.00, the court could fine you $5,000.00 or $150,000.00.
Its worth noting that New York Penal Law 80.00(1) codifies the following:
“When imposing a fine pursuant to the provisions of this paragraph, the court shall consider the profit gained by defendant’s conduct, whether the amount of the fine is disproportionate to the conduct in which defendant engaged, its impact on any victims, and defendant’s economic circumstances, including the defendant’s ability to pay, the effect of the fine upon his or her immediate family or any other persons to whom the defendant owes an obligation of support.”
Moreover, New York Penal Law 80.00(2) defines “gain” not solely as what you illegally profited or the value of the property stolen, but deducts from that amount what has been returned or paid in restitution or otherwise legally seized.
There are many nuances to New York Penal Law 80.00 as well as factors relevant to particular types of crimes. Will a District Attorney seek to fine you for your illegal conduct as part of an offer or recommendation to the court? Will a judge require the same? Each case is distinct as well as the outcomes of any plea or disposition, but restitution and fines can potentially be debilitating. Be smart and get in front of this potential pitfall. Consult with your criminal lawyer to mitigate or avoid the potential financial burden of a New York theft related offense.
Founded by two former Manhattan Assistant District Attorneys, the New York criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC represent clients in all New York theft and larceny crimes in New York City, the Hudson Valley and many other municipalities throughout the State of New York.