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Understanding Theft in New York State

In its simplest form, the crime of theft is the crime of taking or using property that doesn't belong to the person taking or using the property, where they have no permission to do so. Theft is a crime that hinges both on the actions of the accused as well as the intention of the accused.

Types of Cases that Constitute Theft

In New York, there are a multitude of different crimes that constitute theft. These include:

  • Misapplication of property
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third, second, and first degree
  • Auto stripping in the third, second, or first degree
  • Theft of services
  • Unauthorized sale of certain transportation services
  • Unlawful use of credit card, debit card, or public benefit card
  • Fraudulently obtaining a signature
  • Jostling
  • Fraudulent accosting
  • Trademark counterfeiting in the third, second, or first degree and
  • Unlawful use of secret scientific material.

Consequences for Theft Charges

Depending on the charge, a theft case may be a misdemeanor punishable by jail time. The amount of jail time varies, from more than 15 days to up to one year. However, most cases do not result in a sentence of a year in jail. A felony theft charge varies in nature but can be punished by up to 25 years in prison, depending on the offense. Depending on the charge and the level of the offense, the felony consequence varies as follows:

  • Class B felonies are punishable by up to 25 years in prison
  • Class C felonies are punishable by up to 15 years in prison
  • Class D felonies are punishable by up to 7 years in prison and
  • Class E felonies are punishable by up to 4 years in prison

Defenses to Theft Crimes

Of course, defenses to theft crimes are fact specific. However, there are some general legal principles that apply to theft cases. For example, in many theft cases, the intent to permanently deprive another of the item is an element. In these cases, if the person intended only to borrow the item for a short period of time, this may be a defense. In other cases, the crime alleges an unauthorized use, regardless of whether the person had the intent to return the item at some point. In those cases, it may be a defense that the person thought they did have permission, either express or implied, to use the item.

If You Are Charged with Theft

If you are charged with a theft crime, you need legal representation. In addition to potential jail or prison time, theft convictions have collateral consequences. These can include difficulty in finding or maintaining employment, difficulty renting an apartment, denial of federal student aid, and denial of other federally funded programming. Contact the Law Office of Kenneth Puig for a free consultation. We can discuss your case, possible defenses you may have, and alternative ways to proceed with your case. Call 845.787.4757 today.

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In criminal defense and personal injury cases, timing is everything. Give us a call at (854) 787-4757 today to weigh your legal options and to get acquainted with our team.