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Petit Larceny in Nassau County, Long Island, NY

As a criminal defense attorney for Nassau County, Long Island, NY, Stephanie Selloni has handled numerous charges of shoplifting and petty larceny (often called "petty theft" or "petit theft" or "retail theft" in other jurisdictions). Out of all the crimes in the State of New York, shoplifting is one of the rare offenses that are brought against women more than men.

Although most people freely admit to having committed the crime after being caught, on some occasions false allegations are made. A false allegation of shoplifting might occur when a person inadvertently walks out of the store without realizing that he or she has not paid for the merchandise. In a few rare cases, an asset protection or loss prevention employee will plant evidence or otherwise make false statements to encourage a wrongful arrest.

Any shoplifting or larceny offense is considered a “crime of dishonesty” which might show up in even the most basic background check. The consequences are particularly harsh for professionals such as nurses and other health care professionals, teachers and other certified educators, members of the military, law enforcement officers or civilian employees of law enforcement agencies. 

Stephanie Selloni is experienced in representing both men and women charged with this serious crime. Before you decide on a course of action, call Attorney Stephanie Selloni to discuss the different ways the case might be resolved and how to fight for the best result.

Petit Larceny under New York Penal Law 155.25

As a criminal defense attorney in Long Island, NY, Stephanie Selloni has represented clients on a variety of larceny charges including petit larceny (often called retail theft, shoplifting, petit theft or petty theft). Related offenses include possession of recently stolen property in violation of New York Penal Law 165.40.

In some cases the person is arrested for this crime and in other cases the person is issued a Desk Appearance Ticket. Either way, a criminal offense has been alleged and is pending until resolved. In many of these cases, the client wants to negotiate the best possible resolution with depends on the person background, lack of a prior criminal record and the value of the property taken.

Petit Larceny Shoplifting of Less than $100

In many cases, the prosecutors will ask for a resolution involving an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) when the value of the item taken or possessed was less than $100. At the end of the case, if all conditions are met, then the case will be dismissed and sealed. Conditions often involve the payment of costs and the completion of community service hours.

Larceny Cases for Shoplifting Less than $500

If the value of the property is less than $500 but more than $100, the prosecutor may decide against an ACD disposition. In those cases, the prosecutor might offer to reduce the charge to Disorderly Conduct under New York Penal Law 240.20. Although the offense of "disorderly conduct" is a violation instead of a criminal charge, many of the collateral results remain the same.

Never resolve your case for a plea to a misdemeanor or violation unless you have spoken to an experienced criminal defense attorney in Nassau County who can explain other possible ways of fighting the case for a better result. Even if the case is resolved for a violation of Disorderly Conduct, a background check may show an employer that the charge was originally a petit larceny or criminal possession of stolen property.

If the value of the property is less than $1,000 the prosecutor may want a plea to a reduced charge of a “B” misdemeanor for "Attempted Petit Larceny" or "Attempted Shoplifting." Despite the fact that the charge is being reduced slightly, the consequences of that type of resolution may be devastating to your future.

Jury Instructions for Petit Theft in New York

Under the laws of New York, the crime of Petit Larceny is classified as an “A” Misdemeanor under NY Penal Law § 155.25. The standard jury instructions for this crime were last modified on April 4, 2003.

The definition of “larceny” crimes encompass the theories of larceny specified in subdivision two of Penal Law § 155.05. People v. Foster, 73 NY2d 596 (1989). The theories of larceny are also contained in the definition of the term “wrongfully take, obtain, or withhold.” In most cases, for larceny offenses, the prosecutor will proceed under a theory of trespassory taking described by the phrase “wrongfully take, obtain, or withhold.”

Under New York law, a person is guilty of petit larceny when such person steals property. The term “steals property” used in this definition has its own special meaning under New York Laws. The standard jury instructions provide:

A person STEALS PROPERTY and commits larceny when, with the intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or herself [or to a third person], such person wrongfully takes, obtains, or withholds such property from an owner of the property.

See Penal Law § 155.05(1). The statutory definition of property also includes the following: “or real property, computer data, computer program, thing in action, evidence of debt or contract, or any article, substance or thing of value including any gas, steam, water or electricity, which is provided for a charge or compensation.”

See Penal Law § 155.00(5). Also, see that section for special definitions of “owner” to cover the situations:

  1. where the alleged owner obtained the property by theft;
  2. where the alleged owner is a joint or common owner of the property; and
  3. where the property is in the possession of the alleged owner but some other person has a security interest in the property.

Some of the terms used in this definition of “steals property” have their own special meaning under the laws in New York.

  • PROPERTY means any money, personal property, or thing of value.
  • OWNER means a person having a right to possession to the property superior to that of the person who takes it.
  • INTENT means a conscious objective or purpose.

Thus, a person acts with INTENT TO DEPRIVE ANOTHER OF PROPERTY OR TO APPROPRIATE PROPERTY TO HIMSELF OR HERSELF [or to a third person] when such person's conscious objective or purpose is:

  1. to withhold the property or cause it to be withheld permanently, or
  2. to exercise control over the property, [or to aid a third person to exercise control over it], permanently, or
  3. to dispose of the property either for the benefit of himself or herself [or a third person] or, under such circumstances as to render it unlikely that an owner will recover such property.

In the typical larceny, it should not be necessary to include the alternate statutory language which follows the word “permanently”; namely: “or for so extended a period or under such circumstances that the major portion of its economic value or benefit is lost to such person.” See Penal Law §§ 15.05(1); 155.00(3); 155.03(4).

A person WRONGFULLY TAKES, OBTAINS OR WITHHOLDS PROPERTY from an owner when that person takes,obtains or withholds property without an owner's consent, and exercises dominion and control over that property for a period of time, however temporary, in a manner wholly inconsistent with the owner's rights. The exercise of dominion and control of the property includes a requirement that the property be intentionally moved, at least slightly, by the taker.

See People v Olivo, 52 NY2d 309, esp 318, n 6 (1981). Movement of the property is not required where the property is a vehicle which is capable of movement. Id., People v Alamo, 34 NY2d 453 (1974). If the property allegedly stolen was a vehicle which was capable of movement but was not moved, the following may, if applicable, be added: “A motor vehicle when activated comes within the dominion and control of the operator, even if the motor vehicle is not moved.” People v Alamo, supra.

Thus, under the law's definition of larceny, it is not necessary that the owner be in fact deprived of property permanently or that the property be in fact appropriated permanently. The crime of larceny is complete when a person has the intent to deprive or appropriate the property permanently, and that person wrongfully takes the property for any period of time, however temporary.

In order for you to find the defendant guilty of this crime, the people are required to prove, from all of the evidence in the case, beyond a reasonable doubt, both of the following two elements:

  1. That on or about (date), in the county of (county), the defendant, (defendant's name), wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld (specify property) from its owner, and
  2. That the defendant did so with the intent to deprive another of the property or to appropriate the property o himself/herself [or to a third person].

Finding an Attorney for Petit Larceny in Nassau County, Long Island, NY

If you were charged with petit larceny or another type of property crime such as possession of stolen property related to shoplifting or retail theft, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Nassau County in Long Island, NY. Never enter a plea or agree to a resolution of the case in court before talking with an attorney so that you can understand all of the ramifications of your actions.

Both Petit Larceny and Grand Larceny are considered to be a "crime of dishonesty." The charges might follow you for a lifetime unless you resolve your case for the best possible terms. Whether this is a first offense or a second or subsequent offense, talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney today. Call 516-972-1212 to discuss your case today.