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NY Penal Law § 155.25: Petit Larceny

June 28, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

In New York criminal law, larceny is a legal term for theft or stealing. In general, there are two types of larceny.  There is petit larceny and there is grand larceny.  You would face a charge of petit larceny under New York Penal Code § 155.25 if you steal property. That said, petit larceny only applies if whatever property you are accused of stealing has a monetary value that is lower than $1,000. For anything of greater value than that, the charge would be grand larceny. Although you can commit petit larceny in several different ways, petit larceny is the charge most commonly associated with shoplifting.


For Example

Roger is in a clothing store in the mall, absentmindedly browsing at merchandise while talking on his cell phone. as he picks up a shirt while he is in the middle of a rather compelling conversation.  He carries on chatting with the person on the phone and he saunters out of the store with the shirt still in his hand. Less than 30 seconds later he runs back into the store and immediately returns the shirt to the table he got it from. In this scenario, Roger did not commit petit larceny, because he did not intend to steal the shirt. Moreover, when he realized his mistake, he almost immediately returned the merchandise to the store


Offenses that are Related

Grand larceny in the first degree: New York Penal Code § 155.42

Grand larceny in the second degree: New York Penal Code § 155.40

Grand larceny in the third degree: New York Penal Code § 155.35

Grand larceny in the fourth degree: New York Penal Code § 155.30


Possible Defenses

In a shoplifting situation, if you are confronted by staff inside the store, you may have a valid defense against a shoplifting charge. In order to be charged with petit larceny as a shoplifter, you must take merchandise outside of the store without paying for it. If you never leave the premises with unpaid merchandise, then you may have a valid defense against a shoplifting charge.


An alternative defense against a shoplifting charge is absence of intent. The New York Penal Code § 155.25, petit larceny is the theft property of another person, with the intention of depriving another person of said property or of appropriating the property to yourself.  If by mistake, you walk out of a store having neglected to pay for an item, a shoplifting charge may not be appropriate. Also, if you absentmindedly walk out of a store with unpaid merchandise in your hand and then, once you realize your mistake, you quickly go back to the store to return the item, then you have not shoplifted.


The Sentence

Petit larceny is categorized as a class A misdemeanor. If you are convicted, the maximum punishment is up to 1 year behind bars. You could also be sentenced to a term of probation, community service, or you could be ordered to pay a fine. On top of that, you will be obligated to pay restitution. If the value of the stolen property is $100 or less, the prosecutor may offer an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal of the charges. What this means to you is that if you stay out of trouble for 6 months, your case would be dismissed and sealed after six months. additionally, the incident will not show up on your permanent criminal record.



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