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Petit Larceny: Not Always Petty

Petit Larceny, sometimes referred to as Petty Larceny, is defined in New York State as a theft of property valued at less than $1000. In contrast, Grand Larceny is a theft of property at least $1000 in value.

A lot of people mistakenly assume that a misdemeanor is such a small crime that the offense will not lead to jail time. This is often true, but jail time is possible.

In the state of New York, petit larceny is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor, which is subject to up to one year in jail, along with the assessments of fines, restitution and court costs. In most cases a good attorney will get the charges reduced to something less.

According to the New York Penal Code Section S 70.15, a conviction for a Class A Misdemeanor is subject to up to one year in jail, provided certain other conditions are not met. If the offender uses a weapon in the process of the crime, then the jail time will be mandated to a minimum of one year. If the offender had been convicted of other crimes in the previous five years, then the judge is permitted to consider this additional information when he or she considers sentencing.


When facing the judge on a Class A Misdemeanor, such as shoplifting, it is frequently in your best interests to consult with a criminal defense attorney. The reason is because prosecutors and judges in New York State have a lot of flexibility, and an attorney will understand how to help you negotiate with the court to ensure the best possible outcome.

If it is your first offense, a lawyer could possibly resolve the case with an "ACOD" (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal - sometimes called an ACD). In essence, this is a "keep your nose clean for six months" result, which if completed without any further criminal matters, then your record will be wiped clean.

An ACOD frequently involves community service and restitution.

Every case is unique, so not everyone will be able to expect the best possible outcome of an ACOD, but it is worth pursuing. Your defense attorney will have a better idea, based on his knowledge of the law and his experience in the courtroom, as to what could be expected at sentencing.

Not First Offense

Even if this offense is not your first, an attorney might be able to negotiate a deal for you. Defendants can work with the assistance of an attorney to obtain a range of different results.

Fighting The Charges

Fighting a petit larceny may be the best option in some cases. If the charge is shoplifting, chances are that the store's security or the police officer found you in possession of the goods that you are accused of shoplifting, or perhaps they have you on video. Still, police and prosecutors often make mistakes along the way.

You have to consider what evidence that the police have against you, and the judge you are facing. There many factors that come into play in making a decision.

A good criminal defense lawyer will know the landmines and how to navigate through the dangers, to hopefully bring you to a conclusion in which you are satisfied with the outcome.


It is true that you are innocent until proven guilty, and in some instances, you may actually be "not guilty" as charged. It happens sometimes where officers pick the wrong person out of the crowd and file charges that do not reflect the facts, and there are cases where the "complainant" doesn't have good records to document the alleged offense.

If this is the case, your defense lawyer will be your best friend. Your attorney will know how to show the judge that you were falsely charged in this case. Your defense attorney will know how to clear you of the charges against you.

In some cases, your attorney may be able to present your case to the prosecuting attorney and get your case dismissed even before it goes to trial.

In Summation...

Petit Larceny is no small crime in the state of New York and could result in jail time if you don't have a criminal defense attorney working on your behalf.

We know people make mistakes, and it is understandable that you might have to pay a price for your crime, but if you are a first time offender, don't take the chance that you could spend time in jail for a "petty" larceny.

Warren Redlich is a criminal defense lawyer, practicing in Albany New York. If you or one of your family members are facing charges for petit larceny in the Albany NY metro area, learn more about Warren Redlich's legal services here: www.redlichlaw.com/crim/petit-larceny.html

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