In all times and places, stealing has been against the law, but in the modern world, there are more ways to steal and more types of stealing – identity theft, for example – than ever before. Stealing includes larceny, burglary, robbery, and more. How are these crimes defined? If you’re wrongly charged with stealing in New York, what is your recourse? Keep reading. You’re about to learn those answers and more.

Theft – called larceny in New York law – burglary, and robbery are different crimes in this state. All three crimes involve stealing, and convictions for these crimes are sometimes punished harshly. If you are arrested for larceny, burglary, or robbery in Westchester County or anywhere in New York, reach out at once to an experienced Westchester County criminal defense attorney for the legal help you’ll need.

What constitutes larceny in New York? Larceny is simply theft committed without the use of intimidation or force and with the intention of depriving the rightful owner of the property permanently or semi-permanently and exercising control of the property (or enabling a third party to have that control) permanently or semi-permanently. How is “property” defined?

WHAT IS THE LEGAL DEFINITION OF PROPERTY?

New York lawmakers have spelled out this definition: Property is any “money, personal property, real property, computer data, computer program, thing in action, evidence of debt or contract, or any article, substance or thing of value, including any gas, steam, water or electricity, which is provided for a charge or compensation.” The value of any “property” is its market value when the crime is committed.

How is larceny prosecuted in New York? What are the penalties for those who are convicted? “Petit larceny” (petty theft) is the theft of property valued at under $1,000. It’s a Class A misdemeanor punishable upon conviction by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Grand theft is a felony in New York, and the penalties for a conviction are determined by the value of the property that was stolen:

– Theft of property worth over $1,000 is a Class E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
– Theft of property worth over $3,000 is a Class D felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
– Theft of property worth over $50,000 is a Class C felony punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.
– Theft of property worth over $1 million is a Class B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

For any grand larceny conviction in New York, the minimum prison term is a year. Fines may also be imposed on convicted offenders; for grand larceny, the fine is usually twice the value of the stolen property. All larceny is stealing, but burglary and robbery are defined in New York as crimes that add an additional element – like illegal entry or the use of force – to a crime of theft.

WHAT CONSTITUTES BURGLARY IN NEW YORK?

Every New York burglary is a felony. Someone commits third-degree burglary when he or she “knowingly enters or remains unlawfully” in a building while intending to commit a crime there. “Entry” is defined as intruding into a building with any part of the body. It need not be forcible “breaking and entering” to constitute burglary.

The crime becomes second-degree burglary if any of these elements are present:

– The building is a dwelling.
– The suspect enters the building while fleeing from another crime.
– The suspect is armed with a deadly weapon or with explosives.
– The suspect injures a non-participant in the crime.
– The suspect appears to display a firearm.

If the building is a dwelling, and if any of the other four conditions listed above are present as well, the crime is charged as a first-degree burglary.

Here’s how offenders convicted of burglary are penalized in the state of New York:

– Third-degree burglary is a Class D felony punishable upon conviction by up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
– Second-degree burglary is a Class C felony punishable upon conviction by up to fifteen years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
– First-degree burglary is a Class B felony punishable upon conviction by up to twenty-five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

WHAT CONSTITUTES ROBBERY IN NEW YORK?

Like burglary, every robbery in New York is a felony. While larceny is the unlawful taking of property with the intent of permanently depriving its rightful owner of that property, robbery additionally requires the use or threat of force. Robbery is treated as a serious crime in this state because of the threat it poses to public safety.

What are the penalties for persons who are convicted of robbery in New York? A third-degree robbery is a “simple” robbery with no additional aggravating factors. Third-degree robbery is a Class D felony punishable upon conviction by up to seven years in a New York prison.

A person commits second-degree robbery when he or she is aided in the crime by another person who is present, or when he or she injures a non-participant in the crime, appears to display a weapon, or steals a vehicle. Second-degree robbery is a Class C felony punishable upon conviction by up to fifteen years in a New York prison.

Someone commits a first-degree robbery when, during the robbery or in flight from it, that person or an accomplice is armed with a deadly weapon, uses or threatens to use it, or causes serious bodily injury to a non-participant in the crime. First-degree robbery is a Class B felony punishable upon conviction by up to twenty-five years in prison.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE ACCUSED OF STEALING IN NEW YORK?

For any robbery conviction in New York, the court may additionally impose a fine of up to $5,000 or twice the amount taken in the robbery, whichever is higher. If you are accused of larceny, burglary, or robbery in New York – whether or not you are actually guilty of the crime – you must be represented by an experienced Westchester County criminal defense attorney.

An arrest and a charge are not the equivalent of a conviction. To convict anyone of larceny, burglary, or robbery in New York, the state must prove its case against that person beyond a reasonable doubt, and that isn’t always easy. Don’t wait – if you are arrested for one of these crimes, obtain a defense lawyer’s help at once. It’s your right.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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