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What are some defenses to the crime of larceny in New York?

Mistakes and misunderstandings take place all the time. For example, a person could accidently take a piece of property home, thinking it was theirs although it was not. While this misunderstanding may be rectified by an apology and the return of the property to its rightful owner, in other circumstances a person who takes property that is not theirs may find themselves facing criminal charges.

Under New York Penal Law §155.05, the specific theft crime of larceny occurs if a person steals property with the intent to permanently divest the property owner of it or to appropriate it to himself or a third party. There are eight specific ways larceny can be committed under New York law. Four of them are recognized as common law larceny, and include trespassory taking, larceny by trick, embezzlement or using false pretenses. Keeping property that one knows to be lost or delivered by mistake without reasonably trying to return the property to its rightful owner is also a larceny crime in New York. Issuing bad checks, obtaining property by false promise and extortion also fall under the realm of larceny in New York.

What this means is that there are many circumstances in which a person can be charged with larceny in New York. People facing larceny charges may feel intimidated, especially if they've never faced criminal charges in the past. However, they should note that there are several defenses to the crime of larceny that if properly utilized could bolster a person's case.

One defense is having the consent of the property owner to take the property. Another defense is that a person only took the property because they reasonably and truly believed in a threat made against them if they did not take the property. A third defense is that they took the property under false pretenses. Finally, if a person had a good faith claim of right, meaning that they believed that the property belonged to them, this may be a defense to the crime of larceny.

While these defenses may seem relatively straightforward, they still must be supported with sufficient evidence to be successful. Many people charged with a crime have little experience in the New York criminal court system and may feel as if the cards are stacked against them. Therefore, they may want to seek the legal guidance they need to better understand their case, in order to develop a solid defense strategy.

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