The felony crimes relating to Grand Larceny and Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in New York appear relatively straight forward whether the crimes is perpetrated by Embezzlement, Blackmail/Extortion or any other means. In general terms, if you steal property and the value of that property exceeds $1,000, $3,000, $50,000 or $1,000,000, then you may be charged and convicted of Grand Larceny in Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 155.30(1), Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 155.35), Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 155.40(1)) or Grand Larceny in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 155.42) respectively. In the event you are alleged to have possessed stolen property with the values as mentioned, then the applicable offense are Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree (New York Penal Law 165.45(1), Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (New York Penal Law 165.50, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Second Degree (New York Penal Law 165.52, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 165.54) respectively.
Each one of these statutes seems clear enough. For example, what if you steal or embezzle $7,500 in cash and you are caught with that money. Here, the value of the property obviously exceeds $3,000, but is less than $50,000. Prosecutors could therefore charge you with either or both crimes of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (NY PL 155.35) or Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Third Degree (NY PL 165.50). Well, what if the theft or stolen property was a high definition 52 inch LCD television you bought for $6,000 four years ago, but you could get the same model now for $2950? What if the property does not have an easily ascertainable value such antique silverware that has been in the family for generations? Is it enough for the prosecution to merely state the value? If not, what is required to establish this value?
The first entry in this series will deal with measuring value of property to determine what, if any, statute is violated. A second entry will deal with the means by which the prosecution establishes that value whether it be from an expert, a store employee, an owner of the property, etc.
New York Penal section 155.20(1) – Determining Value
“[V]alue means the market value of the property at the time and place of the crime, or if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the crime.” Therefore, if the market value cannot be established, the next means to determine that value is the replacement value.
Defining “Market Value” People v. Irrizari, 5 N.Y.2d 142 (1959): Market value is not the “value of the goods in the market in which the owner had purchased them or in which he could replace them, but the value in the market in which the goods were being traded, namely, the price at which they would probably have been sold in the regular course of business at the time when and place where they were stolen.” People v. Colasanti, 35 N.Y.2d 434 (1974): Market value of recalled pills similar to the value of the comparable substitute pill currently on the market.
People v. Medjdoubi, 173 Misc.2d 259 (NY Cty. Sup. Ct. 1997): “The market value of property stolen from a wholesaler is the price at which a wholesaler could have sold the property. The market value of property stolen from a retailer is the price at which a retailer could have sold the property.”
People v. Medjdoubi, 173 Misc.2d 259 (NY Cty. Sup. Ct. 1997): “The market value of property stolen from a consumer is the price of the item reduced for any depreciation or change in its condition which affected its value at the time of the crime.”
Going back to our 52 inch LCD television hypothetical above, I think our unfortunate victim will end up being very unhappy. The market value of his television is clearly less than it was when he bought it. Even if the market value could not be ascertained and the replacement value is used, the value of the television has depreciated greatly and a similar television could be purchased for a fraction of the price. As a result, the crime would likely be prosecuted as a fourth degree offense as opposed to a third degree crime because although the value of the television exceeded $5,000 when purchased four years ago, the value now at $2,950 is less.
As noted earlier, in our next entry on this topic we will abuse our television owner a little longer and address how the prosecution establishes value through an expert, a layperson, receipts and other means.
For further information on the varying degrees and “types” of Grand Larceny crimes in New York, please follow the link for a more in depth analysis of these crimes.
For further information regarding some of Saland Law PC’s New York Grand Larceny case results as well as the types of Grand Larceny offenses handled by Saland Law PC, please follow the link.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients thoughout the New York City region. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal defense lawyers at Saland Law PC are located approximately one block from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the New York County Criminal Court.