Understanding New York Larceny, Trespass, and Other Property Crimes

If you have been charged with a New York Larceny, Trespass, Burglary, or Criminal Mischief, you need a zealous NYC criminal defense attorney by your side.

New York has several laws that protect the property of others. Specifically, they can be divided into four categories:

  1. Taking someone’s property:
  2. Entering someone’s property without permission;
  3. Damaging someone’s property;
  4. Tampering with someone’s property.

Larceny: Taking Someone’s Property

Theft of someone’s property is larceny. Particularly, New York State law divides larceny charges based on the value of the property taken. For example, if the value of the items is under $1,000, the crime is Petit Larceny. However, if the value of the items is over $1,000 the crime is Grand Larceny. Additionally, Grand Larceny is further divided into separate crimes based on the value.

Petit Larceny:

New York Penal Law, Section 155.25, contains a straight-forward definition of Petit Larceny. Specifically, it states:

“A person is guilty of petit larceny when he steals property.”

It is important to note that there is no property value specified. Thus, 155.25 applies to thefts of all property. For example, both theft of gum from Rite Aid and theft of a $1,000,0000 necklace from Tiffany’s can be charged as petit larcenies. However, the theft of the necklace would also be a Grand Larceny in the First Degree.

Under New York Law, Petit Larceny is a Class “A” Misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison. It should be noted that most Petit Larceny cases resolve themselves without jail time. Our experienced attorneys may be able to work out a favorable resolution for your case. For example, such as an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal or a violation. Thus, you would avoid a criminal record. Sometimes, resolutions of Petit Larceny cases involve community service, restitution, or a theft-prevention class.

Grand Larceny

Under New York Law, Grand Larceny is the theft of property over $1,000. The following are the four different degrees New York Grand Larceny Charges:

  1. Fourth Degree (value over $1,000);
  2. Third Degree (value over $3,000);
  3. Second Degree (value over $50,000);
  4. First Degree (value over $1,000,000).
Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree – NY Penal Law 155.30

Under New York Penal Law 155.30, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree requires theft of property and one of the following elements. Specifically, property must be one of the following:

  • Valued over $1,000
  • A public record,
  • Secret or scientific material,
  • Credit or debit card,
  • Taken from a person (value doesn’t matter),
  • Obtained by extortion (value doesn’t matter),
  • A firearm, rifle or shotgun,
  • A motor vehicle (valued at over $1,000),
  • An item of religious value (either valued at at least $100 or used in connection with religious worship),
  • Access device intended to be used unlawfully to get telephone service
  • Ammonia intended to be used for manufacture of methamphetamine

Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree is a Class “E” non-violent felony. As such, the maximum punishment is 4 years in prison. Additionally, there may be a fine of up to $5,000. Furthermore, there may be restitution for the value of the property.

Grand Larceny in the Third Degree – NY Penal Law 155.35

Similarly, Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (Penal Law Section 155.35) requires an unlawful taking of property, as well as one of the following:

  1. Property value over $3,000, OR
  2. Property is cash from ATM machine or ATM machine itself.

Grand Larceny in the Third Degree is a Class “D” non-violent felony. As such, the maximum punishment is 7 years in prison. Additionally, there may be a fine of up to $5,000 and restitution.

Grand Larceny in the Second Degree – NY Penal Law 155.40

Under New York Penal Law, Grand Larceny in Second Degree (Penal Law 155.40) also requires theft of property as well as one of the following:

  1. Value of property over $50,000, OR
  2. Property is obtained by extortion (value doesn’t matter).

Specifically, Penal Law 155.40(2) defines “extortion” as instilling fear in the victim that someone will cause:

  1. Physical injury to someone in the future, OR
  2. Damage to the property, OR
  3. Use or abuse political power or refuse to perform a duty that will impact some person adversely.

For example, refusing to issue a liquor license without receiving a contribution in the amount of $500 would be Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, since the property will be obtained by extortion. Regardless of the value of the property being less than the $50,000 as required by New York Penal Law Section 155.40(1).

Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is a Class “C” non-violent felony. As such, the maximum punishment is 15 years in prison. Additionally, there may be a fine of up to $5,000 and restitution.

Grand Larceny in the First Degree – NY Penal Law 155.45

Under New York Penal Law Section 155.45, Grand Larceny in the First Degree has two elements. Firstly, there must be a theft of property. Secondly, the value of the property must be over $1,000,000.

Grand Larceny in the First Degree is a Class “B” non-violent felony. As such, the maximum punishment is 25 years in prison. Additionally, there may be a fine of up to $5,000 and restitution.

Petit and Grand Larceny as a Crime of Public Corruption

Equally important to understanding the New York Grand Larceny charges is knowing about a statutory bump up for abuse of a government position. Specifically, under New York Penal Law Section 496.06, an individual who commits the crime of Grand Larceny or Petit Larceny while being a public servant is subject to higher penalties.

Specifically, the text of New York Penal Law Section 496.06, requires:

  1. Commission of: (a) Petit Larceny, (b) Any degree of Grand Larceny OR (c) Scheme to Defraud in the First or Second Degree; AND
  2. Commission of these crimes through the use of public office or any government instrumentality.

The penalty for New York Public Corruption for Class “E,” Class “D,” and Class “C” felonies is one category higher than the committed offense. For example, a person who committed Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (Class “E” Felony) as a crime of public corruption is subject to a maximum term of 7 years imprisonment. That is because the Class “E” Felony becomes a Class “D” Felony, when charged under the New York Public Corruption Statute.

Entering the Property Without Permission: Criminal Trespass

Unlawfully Entering or remaining on someone’s property is either Criminal Trespass or Burglary. To clarify, the difference between the two is the intent of the actor. Specifically, Burglary requires the intent to commit a crime, while trespass does not. There are four degrees of New York Criminal Trespass:

  1. Trespass (Penal Law 140.05 – Violation);
  2. Third Degree Criminal Trespass (Penal Law 140.10 – Class “B” Misdemeanor);
  3. Second Degree Criminal Trespass (Penal Law 140.15 – Class “A” Misdemeanor);
  4. First Degree Criminal Trespass (Penal Law 140.17 – Class “E” Felony).

Trespass: Violation

The least serious trespass charge is Trespass (Penal Law Section 140.05). Because it is a violation, and not a crime. Meaning, even if you plead guilty to a Trespass or are convicted of a Trespass at trial, you won’t have a criminal record. In fact, a year after your plea or conviction, this violation should disappear off your record all together.

Specifically, Penal Law Section 140.05 states “A person is guilty of trespass when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises. So the prosecutor only has to establish two things. Firstly, that you were on the premises. Secondly, that you weren’t allowed to be there.

Although violations are not crimes, they are punishable by up to 15 days in jail. In practical terms, a conviction for a trespass under Penal Law 140.05 will result in a plea to “time served” or a “conditional discharge.” As previously explained, it also won’t stay on your record.

Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree: New York Penal Law Section 140.10

Under Penal Law Section 140.10, Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree, has the following elements:

  1. Entering or remaining unlawfully on a property that is:
  2. Fenced or enclosed to exclude intruders, OR Used as a school or a children’s overnight camp, OR a public housing project, OR a railroad yard.

Notably, trespass in public housing projects and in the railroad yard both require clearly posted “No Trespassing” signs.

Criminal trespass in the Third degree is a Class “B” Misdemeanor. Therefore, the maximum punishment is 90 days jail. However, similar to the Trespassing Violation, vast majority of these cases result in a non-jail criminal disposition. Such as a “Time Served,” as “Conditional Discharge.” Sometimes, community service is part of the plea.

Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree: New York Penal Law Section 140.15

Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree (Penal Law Section 140.15) has two subsections:

  1. Knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a dwelling, OR
  2. Being an individual subject to SORA level 2 or level 3 registration, entering a school, while knowing that the victim of the offense which is subject to SORA registration is a current or a former student there.

Under Penal Law Section 140.00, a “dwelling” is defined as any room or building that is used for sleeping at night.

Notably, New York Penal Law Section 140.15(2) includes several defenses in the text of the statute. Specifically, if the person subject to SORA registration is:

  1. a Student at the school; OR
  2. a Parent of a student at the school attending a school event, OR
  3. At the school because it is a designated polling place.

Then, the invidivual cannot be prosecuted under New York Penal Law 140.15(2).

Criminal Trespass in the Second Degree is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such it is punishable by up to a year in jail. Similarly to New York Criminal Trespass in the Third Degree, this charge will likely resolve itself without any jail time. For example, probation, community service, conditional discharge or time served.

Criminal Trespass in the First Degree: New York Penal Law Section 140.17

Unlike the previously mentioned charges, Criminal Trespass in the First degree (Penal Law Section 140.17) is a felony. Specifically, it is a Class “D” non-violent felony. The elements of Criminal Trespass in the First Degree are:

(1) knowingly entering or remaining unlawfully in a building, AND

(2) in the course of committing a crime, he or another participant possesses an explosive or a deadly weapon, OR possesses knows that another participant possesses a firearm, rifle or shotgun with ammunition.

As Criminal Trespass is a Class “D’ non-violent felony, it is punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

Damaging the Property: Criminal Mischief Making Graffiti and Reckless Endangerment

Under New York Penal Code, criminal mischief involves damaging someone else’s property without their permission. Furthermore, there are four degrees of criminal mischief.

Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree

Under Penal Law Section 145.00, a person is guilty of Criminal Mischief in the Fourth Degree, if:

  1. Having no right to do so
  2. The person intentionally damages the property of another; OR
  3. Recklessly damages the property of another in the amount of $250; OR
  4. Disables or removes a phone from a person who is attempting to call 911.

It is important to note that, under 145.00(4), it doesn’t matter is the defendant owned the device which was disabled during a 911 call.

Criminal Mischief in the Fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor. Therefore, it can be punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree

This charge, codified in Penal Law Section 145.05, has the following elements:

  1. Having no right to do so;
  2. The person damages a motor vehicle of another and has been convicted three times of Criminal Mischief (of any degree) in the past 10 years; OR
  3. Damages the property of another exceeding $250.

Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree is a Class “E” Non-Violent felony, which is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree

Under Penal Law Section $145.10, Criminal Mischief in the Second Degree has two elements. Specifically, they are:

  1. Having no right to do so;
  2. Damaging the property of another in excess of $500.

This charge is a Class “D” non-violent felony. As such, it can be punishable by up to 7 years incarceration.

Criminal Mischief in the First Degree

Under Penal Law (Penal Law § 145.12), Criminal Mischief in the First Degree requires the following:

  1. Having no right to do so
  2. Damaging the property of another with an exposure.

Of importance, for Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, there is no value requirement for the property. Criminal Mischief in the First Degree is a Class “B” non-violent felony. As such it is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

Making Graffiti

Under New York Penal Law § 145.60, Making Graffiti prohibits drawing on or otherwise defacing public or private property with intention to damage. covering or otherwise marking on public or private property with the intent to damage the property.

This charge is a Class “A” misdemeanor and can be punished by up to 1 year in jail. A related charge to Making Graffiti, is possession of Graffiti Instruments, which is prosecuted under Penal Law Section 145.65. This charge is a Class “B” misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days jail.

Reckless Endangerment of Property

Reckless Endangerment of Property (Penal Law 145.25) prohibits:

  1. Recklessly committing an act
  2. That creates a substantial risk of damage to another person’s property
  3. In the amount over $250.

A conviction for this offense is a Class “B” misdemeanor. Therefore, the maximum jail time is up to 60 days.

Criminal Tampering:

New York Criminal Tampering laws are located in New York Penal Law Sections 145.14 – 145.20. They prohibit tampering with another person’s property with the intent to cause inconvenience to another person.

There are three degrees of Criminal Tampering – first degree, second degree, and third degree.

Criminal Tampering in the First Degree

A person can be charged with Criminal Tampering in the First Degree (Penal Law §145.20) if s/he:

  1. Intends to cause a substantial interruption or impairment of a service rendered to the public,
  2. Damages or tampers with the property of a municipal or district public utility.

This charge is a Class “D” non-violent felony. As such, it is punishable by up to 7 years in prison.

Criminal Tampering in the Second Degree

Under Penal Law Section 145.15, Criminal Tampering in the Second Degree has three elements:

  1. Having no right to do so;
  2. Tampering or making connection with;
  3. Property of a public utility.

Under this section, a “public utility” is defined broadly. Such as “gas, electric, sewer, steam or water-works company, a telephone or telegraph company, common carrier, nuclear-powered electric generating facility, or public utility operated by a municipality or district.” It is important to note that it is an affirmative defense if there was no unlawful or criminal purpose.

As this charge is a Class “A” misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 1 year in prison.

Criminal Tampering in the Third Degree

This charge (Penal Law Section 145.14) requires interference with someone’s property with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience to that person. This charge is a Class “B” Misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 60 days in prison.

New York Arson Charges

New York Penal Law also contains five charges relating to Arson, which is the intentional burning of someone else’s property. New York’s Arson charges range from misdemeanors to Class A-I felonies.

Potential Defenses to Trespass and Other Property Charges:

Our experienced New York Trespass Criminal Defense attorneys will explore all possible defenses of your criminal case. For example, the following may be viable defenses for your case:

  1. Lawful Presence on Premises;
  2. Ownership of Property;
  3. Right to Possess the Property;
  4. Mistake of fact (for example, taking the wrong car from a parking lot while believing it’s yours).

Contact Us Today to Discuss Your Case

Having an experienced Property Crimes Criminal Defense attorney on your side is crucial to the outcome of your case. Contact us today or call (212)729-6082 for your free consultation.