Queens, New York Theft and Larceny Defense Attorneys

Queens Theft and Larceny Defense Lawyer

New York Penal Law, Title J governs all crimes dealing with theft.  Generally, these crimes include larceny, computer crimes, welfare fraud, robbery, car stripping, theft of services, credit fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting.

This guide will focus on larceny crimes, which are crimes that deal with taking physical things or money without force.  If you have been charged with stealing something by force, then you might be more interested in our guide on robbery.  If you have been charged with larceny in Queens, and you are looking for a criminal defense attorney to represent you in your case, call Sullivan and Galleshaw, LLP.

What is Larceny?

robber breaking into back door of house

“Larceny” comes from an old French word, like many legal words.  It is actually a very old crime, but some states still use the term for their theft laws.  N.Y. Penal Law § 155.05 defines larceny as a crime where:

  • A person takes or keeps property;
  • The property belongs to another; and
  • He intends for the other person to lose the property, or to keep it for himself (or someone else).

This means that when you take something that belongs to someone else, and keep it, it is the crime of larceny.  The possibility of depriving someone of their property by keeping it includes conduct like finding lost property and making no effort to return it – so even picking up a lost wallet and keeping it is technically larceny.

You can commit larceny in a few different ways, which the statute lays out.  The first is by false promise.  That means you use some sort of fraud or lie to get someone to give you their property.  Things like cons or merely promising to pay for it later – and then never paying – count as larceny by false promise.  The second is by extortion.  This includes any type of threat that is used to get property.  Things like a threat to burn down a building or hurt a loved one, even if there is no immediate threat of violence (such as a lit match), can still count as larceny by extortion.

Larceny has a few different levels of crime, namely “petite larceny,” “grand larceny,” and even “aggravated grand larceny.”  These mostly correspond to the value of what was taken.  “Petite” means “small” in French, and “petite larceny” is actually supposed to be pronounced like “petty larceny” – which is its name in other states.  Petite larceny covers any theft of property, in general.  Grand larceny, with “grand” coming from the French for “large” (“gran”) covers theft above a certain amount, or for certain items.  The only New York law for “aggravated grand larceny” is for the extremely specific crime of a second theft of a whole ATM machine within three years of another ATM theft.

Different Levels of Larceny

gavel in front of law books

Petite larceny, under N.Y. Penal Law § 155.25, is the basic form of larceny and applies to thefts of smaller amounts of property, or anything not specifically named in the other sections.  It is a class A misdemeanor in New York.

Grand larceny has four different degrees, with first degree being the worse and fourth degree being the lightest.  Each has its own limit for how much must be stolen in order to qualify as that degree of larceny.

Grand larceny in the fourth degree is for theft of property over $1,000 in value.  It is a class E felony in New York.  Fourth degree grand larceny also includes theft of any of the following:

  • A public record from a government office (e.g. a criminal case file)
  • Secret scientific materials (e.g. a company’s secret formula)
  • A credit or debit card
  • Anything taken from another person’s body (e.g. pickpocketing a wallet)
  • Anything taken through extortion
  • Guns/firearms
  • A motor vehicle worth over $100, except motorcycles
  • A religious item, kept in a religious building, and worth over $100 (e.g. a Bible from a church worth over $100)
  • A telephone access device to receive telephone service
  • Anhydrous ammonia or liquefied ammonia, intended to use to make methamphetamine (a.k.a. “precursor”)

Grand larceny in the third degree is for theft of property over $3,000 in value.  It is a class D felony in New York.  It also includes theft of an automated teller machine (an “ATM”).

Grand Larceny in the second degree is for theft of property over $50,000 in value.  It is a class D felony in New York.  This also includes any theft by extortion, regardless of the value, if the threats used involve:

  • Causing future physical harm to someone;
  • Causing damage to property; or
  • Abusing their position of authority or job to give a negative effect (e.g. commit a false arrest).

The last, and highest, level is grand larceny in the first degree, and covers theft of property over $1 million in value.  This is a class B felony in New York.

Our Queens Theft and Larceny Defense Attorneys can Help You

If you or a loved one has been charged with larceny or another theft crime in Queens, and you want to hire a criminal defense attorney, call Sullivan and Galleshaw.  With a combined experience of over thirty years representing criminal defendants and juvenile defendants, Sullivan and Galleshaw will fight for you.  Call (800) 730-0135 for a consultation.

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