Theft offenses in New York and New Jersey
Theft in New York
Under New York Penal Law the legal term for theft is larceny. A person
would face a charge of larceny if that person takes, obtains or withholds
property of another person with the intent of depriving the owner of that
property. There are several ways that a person can commit larceny including
trespassory taking, trickery, embezzlement or false pretenses.
Under N.Y.P.L. § 155.05, there are 5 different larceny offenses including
petit larceny, larceny in the fourth degree, larceny in the third degree,
larceny in the second degree and larceny in the first degree. Each charge
is based on the value of the property taken, with a charge of petit larceny
being the least serious charge involving property with a value of less
than $1,000. Because the possible sentence for any larceny conviction
could mean some time behind bars, most larceny offenses are considered
aggravated felonies. In addition, all theft offenses constitute a crime
involving moral turpitude (CIMT). This means that if you are not a U.S.
citizen you will likely face deportation if convicted of larceny.
Hamilton v. Att’y Gen., 480 Fed. Appx. 35 (2d Cir. 2012) the second circuit found grand larceny
in the fourth degree, a violation of N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.35, to be
an aggravated felony under federal law. The court based its conclusion
on the fact that grand larceny is a theft offense and that the defendant
was sentenced to one to four years in prison.
People v. Gale Rogers, 17 Misc.3d 1129 (2007) defendant pleaded guilty to attempted grand larceny
in the second degree. In this case the defendant was accused of embezzling
over $100,000 from her employer.
However, if an immigrant is convicted of petit larceny in violation of
N.Y. Pen. Law § 155.25 deportation is not likely as petit larceny
carries a maximum sentence of up to a year in prison. A defendant who
is sentenced to less than a year would likely not face deportation under
the aggravated felony ground, but could be nonetheless be inadmissible
on the CIMT ground.
Theft in New Jersey
New Jersey’s criminal code has a number of theft offenses including
theft as a disorderly persons and theft as a crime. Theft as a disorderly
persons involves stealing property that has a value of less than $200
while theft as a crime involves stealing property that has a value of
over $200 or more. There are three degrees of the offense of theft as
a crime: theft as a crime in the fourth degree, third degree, and second
degree. In addition, there are several theft offenses based on specific
types of theft such as by extortion, theft of services and shoplifting.
If you are convicted of theft as a disorderly persons offense the maximum
sentence is 6 months in jail. Even with a disorderly persons theft crime,
an immigrant could face deportation. All theft offenses are considered
CIMT. There is an exception for minor crimes, called petty offense exception.
Hatkewicz v. Att’y Gen., 350 F. Appx. 667 (3d Cir. 2009) defendant faced deportation based on
two different crimes committed years apart. Hatkewicz was convicted of
attempted robbery and shoplifting. While attempted robbery is a deportable
crime, the Third Circuit specifically noted that the defendant faced deportation
also because he was convicted of shoplifting in violation of N.J. Stat.
Ann. § 2C:20-11. Shoplifting is a deportable offense because it is
a theft crime, and therefore a CIMT.
It is important to understand that a New Jersey theft conviction can also
negatively impact other forms of immigration relief. In
McKoy v. Att’y Gen., 552 Fed. Appx. 118 (3d Cir. 2014), defendant was a permanent resident,
and pleaded guilty to theft by unlawful taking in violation of N.J. Stat.
Ann. § 2C:20-03. While McKoy was initially sentenced to a term of
probation, he was ultimately resentenced to three years in prison based
on repeated probation violations and deported from the United States.
If you have been charged with a theft offense in New York or New Jersey,
criminal immigration lawyer to represent you at trial and protect your immigration status.