In New York State, theft – wrongfully taking or withholding someone else's property with an intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of such property – is a serious offense that is often punished severely. Depending on the value of property stolen, theft or larceny offenses are either petit larceny or grand larceny. If convicted, the defendant faces substantial fines, lengthy jail time, a criminal record, and other devastating social ramifications.

If you have been arrested or indicted for a theft or larceny offense, it is paramount that you hire a knowledgeable New York State criminal defense attorney to help strategize your defense. At Melanson Law Office, I have the skill, expertise, and resources to help guide and represent clients in theft cases. As your legal counsel, I can help evaluate and investigate every last detail of your case thoroughly and outline a strong defense strategy in pursuit of the best available outcome for your unique situation.

My firm – Melanson Law Office P.C. – proudly represents clients throughout the Hudson Valley including, Kingston, Hudson, Saugerties, Highland, New Paltz, and Poughkeepsie, New York.



Theft Under New York Law

Under New York law, larceny occurs when a person unlawfully takes, obtains, or withholds another person's property, with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of such item or property.

Some common types of theft or larceny include:

  • Larceny by trick

  • Embezzlement

  • Obtaining property by false pretenses

  • Acquiring lost property

  • Issuing a bad check

  • Taking property by extortion.

  • Obtaining property by false promises

Therefore, the burden of a theft accusation can be overwhelming. A skilled lawyer can help investigate the surrounding facts of your case thoroughly to defend your rights.

Classification of Theft Charges

In New York, theft is classified according to the type or monetary value of property stolen or withheld. These include:

Petit Larceny: This involves stealing property worth $1,000 or less. It is the lowest level of larceny crime in New York State.

Grand Larceny: This involves stealing the property of more than $1,000, credit or debit card, firearm, or motor vehicle. Depending on the value of property stolen, grand larceny may be categorized into:

  • Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree – Property value between $1,000 and $3,000.

  • Grand Larceny in the Third Degree – Property value between $3,000 and $50,000.

  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree – Property value between $50,000 and $1M.

  • Grand Larceny in the First Degree – Property value above $1M.

A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can help enlighten you about the potential penalties and consequences of a theft charge to help build your defense.

Possible Penalties for Theft Charges

In New York State, larceny offenses usually carry devastating and possibly life-altering ramifications. Depending on the monetary value or type of property stolen, being convicted of a larceny crime could potentially result in any of the following penalties and consequences:

  • Hefty fines

  • Prison sentences (ranging from months, years, or decades)

  • A criminal record/history

  • Probation

  • Ineligibility for certain financial loans

  • Increased difficulty traveling to other countries

  • Increased difficulty in securing housing, employment, or public benefits

  • Loss of voting rights

A skilled lawyer can identify potential defenses to your theft allegations and dedicate available resources to help fight your charges and prevent the social ramifications of a criminal record.

Common Theft Defenses

Here are some common defenses to help fight your theft charges:

  • No intention of stealing the property

  • Falsely accused of theft

  • Acted with the owner's consent

  • The property was taken under a good faith belief of having the right to take it.

  • Reasonable belief in the truth of threat (for extortion)

  • Truth or ambiguity of the statement

  • Borrowed the property and intends to return it to the rightful owner.

An experienced New York State theft defense attorney can investigate every aspect of your unique situation and determine the best defenses to fight your charges.

How Legal Counsel Can Help

The outcome of your theft case can be devastating, and it can have immediate and long-lasting implications on your personal reputation, quality of life, freedom, and professional opportunities. However, trying to defend your theft allegations without experienced representation can expose you to the possibility of suffering the maximum penalties. When facing theft charges, retaining an aggressive criminal defense attorney is imperative to protect your rights and for detailed guidance.

At Melanson Law Office, I have devoted my career to handling criminal cases and defending individuals wrongfully accused of theft. Using my in-depth legal understanding, I am here to help you navigate the New York State criminal justice system.


Facing theft charges can be terrifying. That is why you should never face them alone. Contact my firm – Melanson Law Office P.C. – for the experienced legal guidance and representation you need. I'm proud to represent clients throughout the Hudson Valley including, Kingston, Hudson, Highland, Saugerties, New Paltz, and Poughkeepsie, New York. Contact my firm today to schedule a simple case assessment.