Grand Larceny & Theft

Grand larceny is theft. It involves stealing, specified by the value or type of stolen property.

In New York, "A person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof." 

Petty larceny (also spelled "petit larceny") is the basic crime of theft. It occurs when a person steals any kind of property, regardless of its value. It encompasses every kind of theft. 

Grand larceny is petty larceny, plus at least one additional factor. It ranges from fourth degree (a class E felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison), to first degree (a class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years).  

Degrees of Grand Larceny

Grand larceny in the fourth degree occurs when a person steals any of the following items:

  1. Property worth more than $1,000.
  2. "Public records".
  3. "Secret scientific material".
  4. A credit card.
  5. A debit card.
  6. Property "taken from the person of another" (by pickpocketing, for example).
  7. Property obtained by extortion.
  8. A firearm.
  9. A rifle.
  10. A shotgun.
  11. A motor vehicle worth more than $100.
  12. Certain "religious symbols".
  13. A "telephone calling card number, credit card number, account number, mobile identification number, electronic serial number or personal identification number that can be used to obtain telephone service".
  14. "Anhydrous ammonia or liquified ammonia gas" to be used in manufacturing methamphetamine.

Grand larceny in the third degree occurs when a person steals: i) property worth more than $3,000, ii) an ATM, or iii) the contents of an ATM.

Grand larceny in the second degree occurs when a person: i) steals property worth more than $50,000; or ii) commits certain types of extortion.

Grand larceny in the first degree occurs when a person steals property worth more than $1,000,000.

Mitigating Factors

People steal for many reasons.

Certain explanations for criminal behavior might reduce your blameworthiness in the eyes of a prosecutor or a judge. For example, a mental disorder might be viewed as a mitigating factor in a grand larceny case. The same might be true of drug addiction, peer pressure, or the need to feed one's children.

If you don't possess a sufficiently strong legal defense, my job might involve helping the Court understand "mitigating factors" that weigh in your favor.

Your lawyer needs to understand what might have motivated you to steal. I actively listen to my clients to develop reasons for their behavior that could justify reducing or dismissing charges.

When properly explained to the District Attorney and the Court, mitigating factors can lead to a more favorable outcome of your case.


I frequently divert clients accused of stealing to appropriate rehabilitative opportunities, such as psychotherapy, drug treatment, job training and education.  

Successful completion of an appropriate rehabilitative program might demonstrate a decreased risk of re-offending in the future.

Rehabilitation can lead to a more favorable plea bargain.


"Restitution" eliminates or reduces financial loss suffered by victims.

Restitution involves making the property owner whole, or closer to whole, by: i) returning stolen property; ii) reimbursing the property owner for the value of property that can't be returned; or iii) a combination of the first two options. Paying full restitution obviously has greater potential benefit than paying partial restitution. Paying a more partial restitution has greater potential benefit than paying less partial restitution.

Restitution can lead to a more favorable plea bargain.

Plea Bargaining

Depending on circumstances, a favorable plea bargain in a grand larceny case might include any of the following outcomes:

  • Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.
  • Reduced plea to a non-criminal offense.
  • Reduced plea from a felony to a misdemeanor.
  • Reduced plea from a felony to a less serious felony.
  • Sentence of probation or other non-jail sentence, rather than jail time.
  • Less jail time.

The plea bargain offered in your case depends on the amount stolen, the evidence against you, mitigating factors, rehabilitation, and restitution.

Going to Trial

The best outcomes occur when the evidence against you is weak. 

The evidence against you might be weak because your are innocent. However, even if you committed the crime, the evidence against you might be weak. Innocent or guilty, it's extremely important for your lawyer to understand the strength of the evidence against you.

When the District Attorney goes to trial with weak evidence, your chance of acquittal increases. Pushing your case to trial against weak evidence sometimes leads to dismissal, and it sometimes leads to a better offer than would be the case if the evidence were strong.

Going to trial against weak evidence, or threatening to go trial against weak evidence, is often a good tactic.

Your lawyer must thoroughly investigate your case to determine the strength of the evidence against you, whether you did the crime or not. Only then can your lawyer leverage weakness in the DA's case to your advantage.

Free Consultation

As a New York City criminal defense lawyer, I defend clients accused of grand larceny. I've been doing so for more than twenty years. I offer a free initial consultation to clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.

I will develop an effective defense strategy for you.

Call Me for Help Today