Grand Larceny: Stealing and Theft from a Co-Owner or Partner

You and your partner are co-owners of certain assets in a clothing store in Manhattan or a antiques store in Brooklyn. You take some of the businesses assets without informing your partner or getting his permission. The question that arises is can you be found guilty of larceny (grand or petit) for “stealing” from that partner where you both have interests in that property?

An experienced New York criminal defense attorney should be able to give you both the answer and the reason. The short answer is that you should not be found guilty or prosecuted because your partner is not an “owner” under the law.

Pursuant to Penal Law section 155.00(5), “[w]hen property is taken , obtained, or withheld by another person, an “owner” thereof means any person who has a right to possession thereof superior to that of the taker, obtainer, or withholder.” Furthermore, a “joint of common owner of property shall not be deemed to have a right of possession thereto superior to that or any other joint or common owner thereof.” If you are equal partners you have equal rights.

Fortifying the position that a larceny can’t be prosecuted under the circumstances above is found in People v. Zinke, 76 NY2d and numerous other cases. It is well settled and black letter law that if you are a partner, joint owner, or common owner of certain assets, you cannot be prosecuted for a larceny offense. It is important to note, however, that you may be charged with other crimes and, therefore, you should find skilled defense counsel to aggressively defend you against any allegation or crime.

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