New York Penal Code 155.40 Grand Larceny Second Degree
New York Penal Code 155.40, also known as Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, is an important theft statute that carries serious penalties. This article will take a close look at the law, including what constitutes the crime, penalties, and potential defenses.
What is Grand Larceny Second Degree?
Grand Larceny in the Second Degree is committed when a person steals property valued over $50,000. It can also occur through extortion, such as by threatening physical harm or abusing public office.
Unlike petit larceny, which covers smaller thefts, grand larceny is a felony. Grand larceny second degree sits below first degree, which requires stolen property over $1 million. It is above third and fourth degree grand larceny, which have lower value thresholds.
Some examples of grand larceny second degree:
- Stealing jewelry, art, or other valuables worth over $50,000
- Embezzling over $50,000 from an employer
- Committing identity theft to steal over $50,000 from bank accounts
- Extorting a business owner by threatening harm to their family unless they pay over $50,000
Penalties for Grand Larceny Second Degree
Grand larceny second degree is a Class C felony under New York law. This exposes defendants to:
- Up to 15 years in state prison
- Fines up to $15,000
- Probation between 1-3 years
Unlike some felonies, there is no mandatory minimum prison sentence. However, past felony convictions within 10 years can increase sentences. Predicate felons face between 3-7.5 years up to a maximum of 15 years.
Prosecutors often charge multiple counts of grand larceny for schemes involving multiple thefts over time. Even though each theft may be under $50,000, the total loss can support the higher charge.
Defendants may also face additional charges like money laundering, racketeering, and tax evasion depending on the circumstances. These can further increase penalties.
Defenses to Grand Larceny Second Degree
Some potential defenses to grand larceny second degree charges include:
Lack of intent: The prosecution must prove the defendant intended to steal the property, not just borrow or take it by mistake.
No unlawful taking: If the defendant had a lawful claim or right to take the property, it may not qualify as larceny.
Value disputes: The defense can challenge the prosecution’s valuation of the stolen property as under $50,000. This could reduce the charge to a lesser degree.
Duress: If the defendant took the property under threat of harm, they may have a duress defense. This could apply to extortion scenarios.
Intoxication: Evidence of intoxication could help negate intent if the defendant was too impaired to form criminal intent.
Mental illness: In some cases, mental disability can be a mitigating factor that reduces culpability.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess the evidence and determine if any of these defenses apply. Aggressive negotiation by counsel can also potentially get charges reduced or dismissed through a plea bargain.
Grand Larceny Second Degree vs. Other Theft Crimes
Grand larceny second degree is not the only theft crime carrying stiff penalties in New York. Others to know include:
- Grand larceny first degree – Stealing property over $1 million.
- Grand larceny third degree – Stealing property over $3,000 or an ATM.
- Grand larceny fourth degree – Stealing property over $1,000.
- Robbery – Using force or threat of force to steal property. Robbery is its own distinct crime separate from larceny.
- Burglary – Entering a building illegally to commit a crime inside, including larceny.
The value thresholds and use of force determine which larceny or theft charges apply. The prosecution will pursue the most severe charge supported by the evidence.
Recent Changes and Issues
In 2019, New York passed a comprehensive bill reforming many areas of criminal law and procedure. One change was increasing the value threshold for second degree grand larceny from $50,000 to $1 million. This would have reduced many cases to lower degree charges.
However, the legislature reversed course and rolled back much of the 2019 reform before it took effect. As a result, the $50,000 threshold for grand larceny second degree remains in place.
Reform advocates have argued the high threshold sweeps too much low-level, non-violent property crime into the felony category. But prosecutors believe the high threshold helps deter large-scale frauds and economic crimes. The debate over reform in this area continues.
Grand larceny second degree is one of the most serious property crimes in New York. The steep penalties reflect how seriously the law takes theft of over $50,000. Anyone facing charges for this felony-level offense needs an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights. With an aggressive defense, some defendants may be able to plea bargain for reduced charges or even get charges dismissed.