New York residents may be charged with larceny if they are accused of stealing property from another person by physically taking the property, using fraud to obtain the property or embezzling the property. To convict an individual for larceny, the prosecution must be able to show that the defendant intended to withhold the stolen property from its owner permanently or for such a long time that the property's value would decrease significantly.
The legal definition of property that can be stolen has been expanded significantly to include both real physical property and computer data. Any money, computer program or evidence of a debt or contract may be considered property in a larceny case. A person who is accused of depriving the owner of gas, steam, electricity and water of their property could also be charged with larceny.
There is a distinction between a charge of petit larceny and a charge of grand larceny, and the sentences for these charges are very different. Petit larceny, a class A misdemeanor in its mildest form, is any act of depriving someone of property. Petit larceny becomes a felony charge of grand larceny when the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000. The higher the value of the stolen property, the more severe a larceny charge becomes.
Most people who are accused of larceny in a shoplifting setting face a misdemeanor petit larceny charge because the value of goods that are stolen in shoplifting incidents rarely exceeds $1,000. If a person has been accused of stealing items that are valued over $1,000 in a shoplifting incident, an attorney may be able to help to argue for reduced charges. The prosecution is sometimes willing to negotiate a plea deal that reduces a felony grand larceny charge to a petit larceny misdemeanor.