29 Jun 20

NY Penal Law § 165.40: Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree

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Last Updated on: 5th August 2023, 01:32 am

The New York penal code has a number of offenses connected to theft and stealing.  For example, petit larceny, grand larceny, robbery, and embezzlement are all criminal offenses related to stealing. That said, it is also a crime to simply possess stolen property. What this means to you is that even if you are not the one who stole the property in question, or the prosecutor does not have evidence to prove that you stole the property, you could still face this criminal charge related to having stolen property in your possession. There are a total of 5 possession of stolen property offenses delineated in the New York criminal code. The least serious of these is criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree. You will face this charge under New York Penal Law § 165.40 if you knowingly possess property that has been stolen with the intent to benefit yourself or a third party and with the intention of making certain that the owner of the property does not get it back.


Two Examples

Joey went into a department store, quickly slipped a watch into his pocket and then exited the store again. Shortly thereafter, Joey was apprehended by store security, who saw his theft on the store’s video surveillance. Joey could get prosecuted on charges for both petit or grand larceny (depending on the value of the watch) and criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree.


Karimah found an amazing deal for a designer handbag on an online auction site. Karimah was the highest bidder, so she paid for the bag and waited for it to arrive.  The handbag was shipped to her, and she was glad when she received it. Unfortunately, it was later determined that the person who was auctioning the handbag had stolen it from a store. Even though Karimah found herself in possession of stolen property it is very unlikely that she would face prosecution.  Karimah had no way of knowing that her cute, new handbag was stolen merchandise.


Offenses that are Related

Petit larceny: New York Penal Law § 155.25

‌Grand‌ ‌Larceny‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌Fourth‌ ‌Degree‌: New Y‌ork Penal‌ ‌Law‌ ‌§‌ ‌155.30


Possible Defenses

Because the statute necessitates that you must be aware that the property in question was stolen, a plausible defense against a charge of criminal possession of stolen property in fifth degree is that you were not aware that the property was stolen. In addition to this, the statute also requires that you have intent to keep the property from its owner. If you have the property in your possession, but you can demonstrate that you intended to return it to the owner, you may have a valid defense against the charge.


The Sentence

Since criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree is a Class A misdemeanor, if you are convicted, you could be sent to county jail for as much as one year.  You may also be required to pay a fine to the court. It is also a possibility that the judge might sentence you to a probation term of 3 years.