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Court Discusses Issues Related to Petit Larceny Charges

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that the defendant is charged with petit larceny arising out of a “buy and bust” operation in which the undercover officer allegedly gave the defendant US currency and the defendant fled without providing the officer with the agreed upon crack cocaine. The defendant moves to dismiss the information for facial insufficiency.

A Kings County Criminal attorney said that the deponent is informed by an undercover officer known to him that, at the above time and place, the defendant did engage informant in a drug related conversation whereupon defendant agreed to sell informant a quantity of crack cocaine in exchange for a sum of U.S. currency. Deponent further states that informant gave defendant a sum of U.S. currency, whereupon defendant took informant’s currency and left. Defendant is further informed by informant that informant is the custodian of said U.S. currency and that defendant did not have permission or authority to take said sum.”

A New York Criminal Lawyer said that section 155.25 of the Penal Law states that “[a] person is guilty of petit larceny when he steals property.” Section 155.05[1] of the Penal Law provides that “[a] person steals property and commits larceny when, with intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or to a third person, he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds such property from an owner thereof.”

In the instant matter it is alleged that the defendant and an undercover police officer, discussed the purchase of crack cocaine. The officer gave cash to the defendant to buy the drugs whereupon the defendant absconded with the money.

A Manhattan Criminal Lawyer said that the only question raised by the defendant concerns the nature of the contemplated sale. The transaction was one in which an undercover police officer sought to purchase drugs from a person he believed to be a seller of the illegal substance, a frequent incident in our city. It is the method by which drug dealers and users are apprehended.

A New York City Criminal Lawyer said that the defendant is misguided in his interpretation of the relevant law in the matter of drug sales. The single relevant case cited, does not focus as suggested by defendant on whether or not the police officer demanded return of the drug money. Rather, the case establishes the applicable law when a “buy and bust” drug operation is not consummated.

The defendant’s conviction of robbery in the first degree, was modified by the Appellate Division reducing it to petit larceny. The court found that robbery was not chargeable because “there was no use of force in the initial taking of the undercover officer’s money,” force being a necessary element in that crime. On the other hand, in reducing to petit larceny, the court found there was legally sufficient evidence to support a conviction for petit larceny.

It is thus patently clear that the acceptance of money by the defendant in exchange for something he knowingly fails to provide constitutes a “taking” within the meaning of the petit larceny statute.

Defendant’s additional argument that the buyer must formally demand return of his money evolves from civil contract law concepts. Defendant is talking apples and oranges. Under the present penal law, the crime of petit larceny is complete when a person takes, obtains or withholds property belonging to another with the intent to deprive the owner of his property.

It is obvious that the alleged facts in the instant case, if true, support each and every element of the crime, making out a prima facie case of petit larceny as charged.

In another case, the defendants are charged with petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree. They were arraigned on December 21, 1983 when felony charges were reduced to present misdemeanors.

A Kings County Criminal attorney said that since the deponent-Police Officer was informed by the informant-owner that the owner had observed the defendants taking the chainsaw, the petit larceny count required the filing of a corroborating affidavit. Accordingly, each defendant’s motion with respect to the petit larceny count is granted and the petit larceny count dismissed. In the absence of a valid accusatory instrument supporting the petit larceny count the Court need not indulge in an analysis of includable or excludable time vis-a-vis the adjournments granted prior to the filing of the corroborating affidavit.

With respect to the portion of the accusatory instrument charging criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree a separate and distinct analysis is necessary. To support this charge there was filed at arraignment both the sworn affidavit of the deponent-officer and a permission and authority affidavit of the informant-owner. Thus the jurisdictional defect present in the petit larceny count was not present in the possession of stolen property count.

Since the initial jurisdictional prerequisite to prosecuting the stolen property count was accomplished on December 21, 1983, a further analysis is necessary to determine whether or not the People answered ready for trial within the time limitation of C.P.L. 30.30. The burden of proof with regard to establishing a speedy trial violation initially rests with the defendant who must make a prima facie showing of undue delay.

The People answered ready for trial on April 18, 1984, 119 days after each defendant’s arraignment. During the period between arraignment and the People’s statement of readiness, each defense counsel filed motions for discovery, bill of particulars, pre-trial hearings, etc.

Defendants argue that because the People did not convert the petit larceny count within the required speedy trial time period, the misdemeanor complaint was not converted until after the C.P.L. 30.30 time had elapsed and therefore both counts must fall. Defendants’ position ignores the fact that there was a jurisdictionally valid and prosecutable count of criminal possession of stolen property extant on the day the criminal action commenced. The counts of petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property are distinct. Each count has different elements. Each is supported by different facts. Absent the People’s consent, a guilty plea to one would not automatically cover the other. A trial jury’s finding on one count would not necessarily be dispositive of the other.

With respect to the petit larceny count, the People did not fulfill their obligations under C.P.L. 30.30. The motion of each defendant is granted and the petit larceny count is dismissed. With respect to the criminal possession of stolen property count, the motions to dismiss pursuant to C.P.L. 30.30 are denied.

Our lawyers here in Stephen Bilkis and Associates, by reason of their years of experience, have become skilled and will be able to defend you in your cases. For criminal cases, you can consult our Kings County Criminal Lawyers. For cases of misdemeanor, our Kings County Misdemeanor Attorneys are here to represent you before the courts and ensure that your rights are protected.

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