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Criminal Possession of Stolen Property: New York Penal Law Sections 165.40 Through 165.54: Associated Legal Presumptions & Defenses

Much like the New York Grand Larceny statutes, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in New York ranges from a misdemeanor (NY PL 165.40) punishable by up to one year in jail (often associated with New York shoplifting and Desk Appearance Tickets throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx) to a felony punishable by up to 8 and 1/3 to 25 years in state prison. Before addressing the legal presumptions and defenses set forth in the penal law, I will briefly address each of the varying levels of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property solely as it relates to the value of the property.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Fifth Degree – NY PL 165.40

A person is guilty of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fifth Degree when he knowingly possesses property that is stolen and he also has the intent to benefit himself or another person or impedes the owner from recovering the property. New York Penal Law 165.40 is an “A” misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Fourth Degree – NY PL 165.45

The value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000. New York Penal Law 165.45 is an “E” felony punishable by up to four years in state prison.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Third Degree – NY PL 165.50

The value of the stolen property exceeds $3,000. New York Penal Law 165.50 is a “D” felony punishable by up to seven years in state prison. Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in Second Degree – NY PL 165.52

The value of the stolen property exceeds $50,000. New York Penal Law 165.52 is a “C” felony punishable by up to fifteen years in state prison.

Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in First Degree – NY PL 165.54

The value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000,000. New York Penal Law 165.54 is a “B” felony punishable by up to twenty five years in state prison.

Although there are four legal presumptions associated with New York Penal Law 165.55, the following is one of the more relevant and common ones:

A person who knowingly possesses stolen property is presumed to possess it with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof. This presumption, taken further and with a slight twist, is known as “recent exclusive possession.” A tremendous body of case law addresses this presumption that stands for the position that if an accused has exclusive possession of the property shortly after a theft crime is perpetrated and there are circumstances such as the inability to explain where the property came from, a negative inference may be drawn. That inference is that the accused knew that the property he or she possessed was stolen.

In addition to the above presumption(s), there are statutory provisions that establish certain “non defenses” to the crime of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property. Pursuant to New York Penal Law 165.50:

In any prosecution for Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, it is no defense that:

1. The person who stole the property has not been convicted, apprehended or identified; or

2. The defendant stole or participated in the larceny of the property (the theft or taking); or

3. The larceny of the property did not occur in this state.

The above statutes and analysis are not substitutes for consulting with a New York criminal defense attorney as to the particular facts and application of the law in your case, but is a good place to start educating yourself on the crime of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property.

Crotty Saland PC is criminal defense firm located in New York. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, Crotty Saland PC represents clients throughout the New York City region in white collar and theft related crimes and investigations.

For further information on Desk Appearance Tickets in New York or the varying statutes related to New York Grand Larceny, please follow the highlighted links.