Defeating a Grand Larceny Charge in New York

Grand larceny is a serious offense.

If you plead guilty, or if you are found guilty at trial, jail time is very possible.  It depends on the type of property you stole and the conditions under which you stole it.

For a more detailed understanding of the types of property and conduct that give rise to a grand larceny charge, read our article, What Constitutes Grand Larceny in New York.

It’s important to note here that grand larceny charges can arise from more than just your classic pickpocketing scenario.  Keeping lost property, accepting a delivery not intended for you, and issuing a bad check can all be qualifying events. To understand more, read our article, Unexpected Ways You Could Face Larceny Charges in New York

Here, we’re delving into the penalties that come with a grand larceny conviction, and the steps you can take to defend yourself against your charges.

What will happen if I’m convicted of grand larceny in New York?

Several factors will come into play in determining your sentence, including your age and criminal history.  

Whether you have prior felony convictions, whether the convictions occurred in the last ten years, and whether those convictions pertained to violent offenses will be considered.  Also relevant is your number of prior convictions.

For example, if you have two or more previous felony convictions you may be considered a persistent felony offender, and life in prison is a possibility.  

Beyond those considerations, sentencing for grand larceny will largely depend on the property stolen and the conditions under which it was taken.  As detailed here, grand larceny offenses are divided into four categories according to their degree of severity, with an additional category for aggravated larceny of an automated teller machine.  

Each degree falls into a different felony class as specified below:

Crime Class Sentence
Grand larceny in the 4th degree Class E Violent:  No jail, probation, 1 ½ to 4 years

Non Violent:  No jail, probation, 1 ⅓ to 4 years

Grand larceny in the 3rd degree Class D Violent:  2-7 years in prison

Non Violent:  No jail, probation, 1-3 to 7 years

Grand larceny in the 2nd degree Class C Violent:  3 ½ to 15 years in prison

Non Violent:  No jail, probation, 1-2 years to 15 years

Grand larceny in the 1st degree Class B Violent:  5-25 years

Non Violent:  1-3, maximum 25 years in prison

Aggravated grand larceny Class C Violent:  3 ½ to 15 years in prison

Non Violent:  No jail, probation, 1-2 years to 15 years

How Do I beat a grand larceny charge?

There are several ways to defeat a grand larceny charge.  

As discussed in our article, The Truth About Getting Your Case Dismissed, dismissal is your best case scenario.  When the prosecutor willingly drops the charges against you, the financial and time expense of defending yourself cuts off, and you are free to resume your normal life.   

Your case may be dismissed due to procedural violations that bar the admission of critical evidence, but often dismissals are the result of strategic lawyering by your criminal attorney.  

However, assuming your case does not get dismissed, your innocence will depend on a strong defense strategy.  

It’s important to note here that there are two kinds of defenses.  When you plead “not guilty”, you are essentially saying that you did not commit the acts you’re accused of.   

Under Article 25 of the New York Penal Code, when a defendant raises a defense at trial, the prosecution has the burden of disproving that defense beyond a reasonable doubt.  In a larceny context, your criminal lawyer may call witnesses and introducing evidence that establish you weren’t present at the scene or that you did not have the stolen property in your possession.  The strategy employed will depend on your individual circumstances.

Affirmative Defenses to Grand Larceny

However, certain defenses are specified by statute as affirmative defenses.  With an affirmative defense, the burden shifts to the defendant to prove the defense beyond a preponderance of the evidence.  A preponderance of the evidence means anything greater than fifty percent, which is a lower standard than beyond a reasonable doubt.

There are two affirmative defenses to larceny under § 155.15.  The first is where trespassory taking or embezzlement is involved, and the defendant claims the property was appropriated under a claim of right made in good faith.

This scenario might arise where a business person takes funds from a company account, for example.  He would have the burden of proving he truly believed the funds belonged to him, and that he acquired them honestly and fairly.  

The other affirmative defense arises where the grand larceny occurred by extortion.  Extortion in a grand larceny context is essentially where you force someone to part with their property by threatening them with harm.  

If the defendant threatens to charge the victim with a crime, he might claim he did so because he truly thought the victim committed that crime, and that his motivation was to compel the victim to right his wrong.  That specific scenario is detailed by statute as an affirmative defense, so your criminal attorney would have the burden of proving it’s more likely than not to be true.

In Summary

Facing grand larceny charges in New York is no small event.  The consequences can be severe and the effect on your life permanent.  

Make sure you consult with a criminal defense attorney if you’ve found yourself in this situation.  A strong defense can be the difference between prison and freedom.

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