It is very easy in New York State to compound a bad mistake and inadvertently roll it into a felony case. To find an example of this, one needs to look no further than the Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 155.30(4) and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree pursuant to New York Penal Law 165.45(2). These two statutes address the theft and possession of stolen debit and credit cards and are “E” felonies punishable by up to four years in state prison.
Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law 155.30(4):
A person is guilty of Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree when he steals property and when the property consists of a credit card or debit card.
Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree, New York Penal Law 165.45(2):
A person is guilty of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property, with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner thereof or to impede the recovery by an owner thereof, and when the property consists of a credit card, debit card or public benefit card.
It is very important to note that a conviction for these offenses will stand even if the particular credit card that is stolen was previously canceled or revoked. See, People v. Peterson, 216 A.D.2d 10 (1st Dept. 1995); see also, People v. Winfield, 145 A.D.2d 449 (2nd Dept. 1988). Even more importantly, one may be convicted of either Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 165.45(2)) or Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree (NY PL 155.30(4) even if one does not know that one stole a credit card. In other words, if you steal a wallet hoping to get some quick cash, but it turns out there was a credit card there, your crime can potentially be elevated from a misdemeanor to a felony. See, People v. Mitchell 77 N.Y.2d 624 (1991) (Prosecution “not required to prove that defendant was cognizant that the stolen property she possessed was a credit card because the statute imposes no such burden. Rather, the correct burden…is only that she knowingly possessed stolen property which, in fact, consisted of a credit card, and which she intended for her own benefit.”)
Although other elements of these statutes must be established and your criminal defense attorney may be able to successfully challenge those elements, make not mistake. The law does not require that you are aware that you are possessing the stolen credit, but only that you possessed or stole property that was in fact a credit card.
Saland Law PC is Manhattan criminal defense firm representing clients throughout the New York metropolitan area. The NY criminal defense lawyers who founded Saland Law PC previously served as Manhattan prosecutors in the Trial Division and prosecuted complex fraud cases in the Identity Theft and Special Prosecutions Bureaus.