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Last Updated on: 26th July 2023, 10:54 pm
In New York, larceny refers to the act of stealing someone else’s property. While petty larceny involves stealing property valued at under $1,000, grand larceny kicks things up a notch for higher value thefts. Specifically, New York Penal Law § 155.42 covers the crime of Grand Larceny in the First Degree, which involves stealing property with a value exceeding one million dollars. As you can imagine, this charge is about as serious as larceny charges get in New York.
But what exactly constitutes grand larceny in the first degree? When does theft cross the line from regular old larceny to the elevated charge of Grand Larceny First? I spoke with Todd Spodek, a top-rated New York criminal defense attorney, to get some insider knowledge on this felony offense. Spodek told me that prosecutors don’t mess around when it comes to § 155.42 cases. Convictions often lead to years behind bars. That’s why anyone facing accusations of this crime needs an experienced lawyer on their side.
According to Spodek, Grand Larceny First Degree allegations should always be taken seriously. The key factors that distinguish it from other larceny crimes are the value of the stolen property and how that property was taken. Let’s break it down:
For a charge under NY Penal Law § 155.42, the stolen property must be worth over $1 million. It doesn’t matter if the theft was a one-time incident or part of an ongoing scheme—if the total value exceeds one million, it qualifies as Grand Larceny First.
Spodek explained that prosecutors can get creative in calculating the value of stolen goods. Things like intellectual property, trade secrets, luxury vehicles, and rare art or artifacts often lead to First Degree Grand Larceny charges. The higher the estimated value, the harsher the potential sentence if convicted.
Beyond meeting the value threshold, Grand Larceny First Degree also requires that the property was taken through certain illegal means. According to Spodek, common scenarios include:
– Outright stealing through deception, coercion, or force
– Embezzlement by employees or financial advisors
– “Pump and dump” investment schemes meant to manipulate stock prices
– Theft through hacking or identity fraud
– Receiving or possession of large quantities of stolen goods
So if someone swipes a million-dollar work of art from a museum or makes off with precious gems from a jewelry store, those acts could certainly qualify. The law is focused on theft of high-value property using extreme or sophisticated means.
Given the brazen nature of most § 155.42 cases, convictions often come with stiff penalties. It’s classified as a Class B felony, just one step below New York’s most serious Class A felonies. Defendants face:
– 5 to 25 years in state prison. Because of the high value involved, the judge rarely exercises leniency at sentencing.
– Fines up to double the amount stolen, which could potentially mean millions of dollars for the very largest thefts.
– Restitution to repay victims for what was stolen.
– Permanent criminal record which severely limits future employment and housing prospects.
With up to a quarter-century behind bars on the line, the risks are evidently quite high. Spodek emphasized that Grand Larceny First Degree defendants should never attempt to go it alone against New York prosecutors. Even seemingly clear-cut cases could have important nuances a skilled attorney can identify.
To really understand how these complex cases unfold, it helps to look at some real-world examples. Spodek walked me through a few noteworthy Grand Larceny First prosecutions he has seen over his career:
This guy convinced dozens of investors to put millions of dollars into his hedge fund. Problem was, he had no hedge fund. The entire thing was a sophisticated Ponzi scheme where he used new investor money to pay out fake “returns” to earlier backers. When it all finally collapsed, he had raked in over $7 million in total. A textbook Grand Larceny First case that ended in a 15-year prison sentence.
As the chief financial officer of a large corporation, this woman had access to significant company funds. Over several years, she abused that access to funnel money into her own pockets. Forensic accounting revealed the total loss to her employer exceeded $1.5 million. She pleaded guilty to one count of NY Penal Law § 155.42 and got 8 years behind bars.
This pair of criminals engaged in a spree of luxury car thefts around New York City. They had a sophisticated process for creating fake ownership paperwork, which allowed them to sell the stolen vehicles to shady offshore buyers willing to pay premium prices. When authorities finally caught up, the total value of the stolen cars topped $2.8 million. Facing rock-solid First Degree Grand Larceny charges, they had no choice but to negotiate plea deals.
Given the extreme penalties for conviction, building an aggressive legal defense is imperative. Spodek Law Group attorneys deploy sophisticated strategies to fight allegations of Grand Larceny First Degree in New York. Some effective tactics include:
Often the prosecution makes broad assumptions or uses an inflated estimate of stolen property value. Thoroughly investigating how they came up with the $1 million+ figure can poke holes in their case. If the defense can credibly argue the value was less than a million, the charges may get reduced.
Prosecutors often move aggressively on larceny investigations, but that doesn’t mean their case is rock solid. An experienced criminal defense attorney will scour the evidence and witness testimony to find inconsistencies, procedural errors, bias, or credibility issues. Bringing those weaknesses to light before a judge or jury can raise reasonable doubt.
Finally, skilled negotiations with the prosecution can sometimes secure a plea bargain to lesser charges like second-degree grand larceny. While not ideal, plea deals may be the best option given the massive sentence exposure. An attorney familiar with prosecutors and judges in a particular jurisdiction can often broker the most favorable deal.
With so much at stake, anyone facing accusations of Grand Larceny First Degree needs expert legal help. The seasoned criminal defense lawyers at Spodek Law Group have extensive experience defending complex white-collar cases in New York courts. They offer compassionate yet aggressive representation for clients accused of felony larceny charges.
To arrange a free, confidential case evaluation, call them at 212-300-5196 or reach out through their website. The sooner an experienced lawyer gets involved, the better the chances of keeping these serious penalties at bay. With charges this severe, protecting freedom and reputation is paramount.
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