In New York, a person commits larceny when he or she commits a theft. The crime has two categories. There is petit larceny, and there is grand larceny. Petit larceny involves theft of property valued at less than $1,000. Grand larceny involves property valued $1,000 or more.
When is Petite Larceny Committed?
Petit larceny is controlled by New York Penal Statute section 155.05. Most retail theft cases that are prosecuted are brought under that section. The section states that “A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.” The element of intent must be shown in order to convict a person of petit larceny. In general, the crime might be committed in any of the following ways:
- By trespassory taking.
- By trick or embezzlement.
- Obtaining property under false pretenses.
- By acquiring lost property when somebody exercises control over property of another which he or she knows to have been lost or mislaid.
- When property is delivered with a mistake as to the identity of the recipient without taking reasonable measures to return the property to the owner thereof.
- By issuing a bad check.
- By false promise or extortion.
Punishment for Petit Larceny
A conviction for petit larceny is classified as a misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both. On top of the possible criminal penalties for larceny in New York, there is a companion civil liability statute stating that a person who commits retail theft or the parent or guardian of a person who commits such theft can be held liable to a store owner. The civil penalties for petit larceny include one or both of the following:
- The retail price of the merchandise stolen, and if not returned in a sellable condition, a sum of up to $1,500.
- A civil penalty that does not exceed the greater of five times the retail price or $75, with a cap of $1,500.
If a person is convicted of petit larceny, he or she will have a criminal record. That conviction can stay with a person for the rest of his or her life. Sentencing alternatives are available, and we might be able to obtain a negotiated disposition without jail time or a conviction of record.
Defenses to Petit Larceny
In any petit larceny case, the prosecution must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It might be able to do that if it can show that you intended to permanently deprive the owner of that property from it. By making intent an element of the crime, the State of New York’s legislature made it impossible to steal something by accident. Sometimes, that accident might even be the fault of the store.
If you are suspected of shoplifting, a store’s loss prevention or security personnel might ask you to sign off on a statement or convention. After that, you might be free to leave. Don’t sign a statement or confession of any kind. After that, it will only be used against you as powerful evidence of guilt when you’re prosecuted for petit larceny. The fact that you were not Mirandized is irrelevant under the circumstances. Miranda rights are not triggered when you are in the custody of private loss prevention or security personnel.
Always remember that the prosecution has the burden of proving you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Don’t give loss prevention, security or police any kind of statement or confession that they can use to convict you with. Exercise your right to remain silent and right to an attorney of your choice. Contact us right away after any petite larceny arrest. We’re going to listen to you carefully. After that, we’ll advise you of all of your legal options.