New York City Theft Defense Lawyer
Theft charges can be one of the most damaging crimes of which you can be convicted in New York. Not only does it carry a permanent criminal record and possible incarceration like other crimes, but theft convictions tend to have far reaching collateral consequences that can affect your immigration status, job status, and future employment opportunities. Many New York theft related offenses are also considered crimes of moral turpitude which can have severe immigration consequences. If you currently work or plan to work in finance or banking, a theft charge can have additional consequences.
While there are many different crimes that involves theft, such as fraud and counterfeiting, the most common theft crimes are larcenies. Larceny is committed if you wrongfully take, obtain, or withhold property from another with the intent to deprive that person of the property. There are many ways you can commit a larceny. You can simply steal a piece of property, you can embezzle property, obtain property by making a false promise, or obtain property by extorting someone. All of these methods will result in you being charged and possibly convicted of larceny.
Petit and Grand Larceny. Larceny is charged in varying degrees depending on a number of factors. The least serious charge is
Petit Larceny. You can be convicted of Petit Larceny when the prosecutor proves that you stole property. Petit Larceny is a class A misdemeanor for which you can be sentenced up to a year in jail. Value is irrelevant for Petit Larceny. Whether you steal property valued at $.01 or $500 you can be convicted of the crime. As the value of the stolen goods increases, the charge becomes more serious. If you steal property valued that exceeds $1,000 you can be charged with
Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree. This charge is a class E felony for which you can be sentenced up to 4 years in prison. Once the value exceeds $3,000, the charge becomes Grand Larceny in the Third Degree. This is a class D felony and you could be sentenced up to 7 years in prison. If the value of the property is over $50,000 the charge will be Grand Larceny in the Second Degree. This is a class C felony and you could face up to 15 years in prison. The most serious larceny charge is Grand Larceny in the First Degree. You can be convicted of this charge when you steal property valued at over $1,000,000. This is a class B felony and you can be sentenced up to 25 years in prison.
Theft of Services. A separate type of theft that is commonly charged, especially in New York City, is theft of services. You can be convicted of theft of services when you accept a service without paying, paying with a forged instrument, or paying with a stolen credit/debit card. This is often charged when people do not pay for subway rides, taxi rides, or after eating in a restaurant. Theft of services is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.
There are several defenses to a larceny charge. Since the prosecutor has to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt, attacking any of the elements is always an option. Usually this is done by showing you did not intend to steal the property. Without the necessary intent, you cannot be convicted of a larceny. It is also a defense if you had a good faith belief that the property rightfully belonged to you. If charged with larceny due to extortion by threatening to turn someone in for a criminal act, it is a defense that you believed the threatened charge was true and your sole purpose was to compel the person to correct the action. Mistake is another common defense. If the circumstances of your case can support a credible argument that due to a mistake or error, payment was not rendered, this could provide you with a critical defense.
It is important to avoid a theft conviction at all costs. Since in New York criminal records are permanent and public records, every future employer will be able to see that you were previously convicted of stealing. It is a red flag that will immediately lower your chances of receiving employment offers. Theft convictions are also considered “crimes of moral turpitude” which can have serious immigration consequences for non-citizens including deportation. While there are crimes that have longer prison sentences and higher fines, few crimes have as far reaching consequences than theft. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.