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Petit larceny: when a penalty far outweighs the crime

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2018 | Larceny |

When the seriousness of a penalty far outweighs the crime, there is clearly an issue at hand. Such is the case for countless New Yorkers who have been found guilty of larceny; some, unfortunately, have already faced major repercussions. These charges, while reasonable to a degree, can ultimately damage a person’s reputation, professional life and overall wellbeing. 

For some, the effects of these charges have recently been halted. Independent media outlet openDemocracy shared last week that New York has reduced its jail and prison population by 50 percent — with petit larceny on the list for adjustment within the system. One reason, according to openDemocracy, is that crime rates across the nation have plummeted. Once a hub for crime, New York now prides itself over this progress, and subsequently has debunked the popular idea that reductions in crime are a result of higher incarceration rates. The following small crimes can now result in a required community service project, counselling at a local clinic, assistance with career searches and other help with readjusting into society:

  • Petit larceny
  • Drug possession
  • Trespassing
  • Riding subway with a ticket

openDemocracy adds that the punishment for avoiding this process of readjustment is also strict, but that the state is one of many in the hopes that the nation is at the end of a mass incarceration era. 

Although the state may be on the brink of change, there are some individuals still grappling with larceny charges. Findlaw outlines some common theft defenses, first noting that there are valid defenses even in cases where the facts that led to theft are evident. One defense for this crime is claim of right, in which the defendant establishes that they were the rightful owner of the property. Intoxication is another type of defense, in which an individual argues that intoxication prevented them from intentionally stealing the property. There are other defense options, as each situation may require unique solutions.