When a Simple Petit Larceny or Petty Theft Becomes a Felony Grand Larceny in New York:
The laws governing larceny will usually contain sentencing options, either a list of possible sentences or a range of years, as well as fines or other alternative sentences. Judges can determine the appropriate sentence by examining the facts of the case and choosing the best penalty that falls within the bounds of the statute.
In a larceny case, the type of larceny will also greatly influence the severity of the sentence. Grand larcenies carry much longer sentences than do petit (or “petty”) larcenies. Some states also impose different sentences based on the type of item that the defendant stole.
In New York, a misdemeanor theft or larceny can easily be enhanced to a felony in certain circumstances. In fact, pursuant to New York Penal Law Section 155.30(5), Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, it is a felony punishable by up to four years in state prison if you perpetrate the crime commonly known as “Grand Larceny from the Person.”
Under the New York Penal Law, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree is committed when a person steals property and that property, regardless of its nature and value, is taken from the person of another.
By contrast, in New York there are several degrees of grand larceny, determined mostly by the value of the stolen property. The penalties for these degrees of grand larcenies range from one to twelve years imprisonment, subject to a judge’s discretion. Petit larcenies, however, are misdemeanors and punishable by a prison term of up to a year.
When deciding what sentence to impose within all the possibilities listed under a statute, judges will examine the facts of the case itself, as well as other aggravating and mitigating factors.
Aggravating factors tend to make the crime more serious. They typically include such things as the defendant’s criminal history and whether or not the victim was particularly vulnerable, and the presence of aggravating factors usually results in a harsher sentence. Mitigating factors usually influence judges to hand down a more lenient sentence, such as when the defendant has taken responsibility for the crime or has no previous criminal history.
Like most states, New York classifies a theft or larceny crime according to the monetary value of the property involved. Let’s take a closer look at how larceny crimes are defined and penalized under New York law. Theft as Petit Larceny. The lowest-level theft offense in New York is called “petit larceny,” or petty theft, which is the unlawful taking of property or services valued at no more than $1,000. New York law classifies petit larceny as a class A misdemeanor. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.25.)
A sentence for conviction of a class A misdemeanor in New York may include imprisonment for a term not to exceed one year and a fine not to exceed $1,000. Theft as Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. If the value of the property or services stolen exceeds $1,000 or if the property is a firearm, motor vehicle, credit/debit card, or a few other specific types of property the offense is grand larceny in the fourth degree, a class E felony under New York law.
Conviction of a class E felony in New York carries a potential sentence of imprisonment for a term not to exceed four years, and a fine not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or double the amount of the offender’s gain from the theft. (Penal Law § 70.00(2)(e), § 80.00(1).)
It is important to note that your theft need not be from another’s hand, pocket, wrist, etc. In fact, prosecutors often charge this crime where a person’s bag, backpack or purse is stolen even if the victim is not wearing that purse. Pursuant to People v. Haynes, 91 N.Y.2d 966 (1998), if a person is touching a bag, purse or backpack and a defendant takes that property, then this crime has likely been committed. A little vague, a better way to look at this hypothetical is that if a person is sitting on the strap of their bag or leaning against it as it is hanging over the chair, a defendant can be charged with this crime if they take the bag away as the strap is pulled from underneath or on top of the victim. It is important to note that the taking need not be violent or forceful. In fact, the victim might not know of the theft as the item is pulled away.
If you are involved in a Grand larceny case, seek the help of a New York Criminal Attorney and New York Petit Larceny Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates.