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New York law on larceny, robbery and theft

Many New Yorkers have heard "larceny," "robbery" and "theft" used interchangeably, but these terms aren't exactly the same. Traditionally, larceny was considered a type of theft, and some states still consider the two crimes to be separate. New York mostly combines both types of property crimes under the name larceny.

As defined under New York law, larceny is the wrongful taking of property from another with the intent of depriving someone else of the property, whether the accused intended to keep it or transfer it to someone else.

The big distinction between larceny and robbery is that robbery involves force or threat of violence, while larceny does not. Thus, larceny can involve many different types of property crimes. Even wrongfully keeping someone else's lost property can be considered larceny if the person intends to deprive the true owner of the property -- either permanently or for so long a period that its worth is significantly damaged for the true owner. Likewise, embezzlement and certain types of fraud can also fall under the umbrella of larceny.

In addition to the different types of larceny, there are different degrees, depending upon the circumstances and the value of the property.

The key element in all forms and degrees of larceny is intent. To be convicted of larceny, the defendant must have intended to wrongfully take it and to wrongfully keep it away from the true owner.

Because the intent element is so important to a larceny charge, some of the most effective defense strategies in larceny cases focus on intent. If the defendant can show that the owner actually consented to the defendant taking the property, or that the defendant truly believed he or she had a right to the property, it may be possible to defeat the charge.

The penalties that go with conviction on larceny charges can be harsh, especially when the property at issue is worth a lot of money. Those who face these charges need the help of New York attorneys who can help them craft a smart and effective defense strategy.

Source: FindLaw.com, "New York Larceny Laws," accessed on July 31, 2014

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