Let’s suppose that you are in a small business partnership with another
person and you learn that your partner has been stealing from you. Would
it be possible to threaten to take the matter to the police should he
refuse to sell his share in the business to you at a discounted rate?
The answer is probably not in New York.
Larceny is defined in Penal Law section 155.05(2)(e) to include “by
extortion.” The definition reads as follows:
A person obtains property by extortion when he compels or induces another
person to deliver such property to himself or to a third person by means
of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered,
the actor or another will: (i) cause physical injury to some person in
the future; or (ii) cause damage to property; or (iii) engage in other
conduct constituting a crime; or (iv) accuse some person of a crime or
cause criminal charges to be instituted against him . . .
There are several other methods on the list but you can see the point.
Although it may seem somewhat counterintuitive, there is a possibility
that if you make such a threat, you would be essentially blackmailing
the person who stole from you — a truly unintended result. The proper
way to handle the situation is to contact the police if you think that
a crime has been committed, or try to work it out amicably with your business
associate. However, in order to do that with a clear conscience, one would
need to understand both how the complaint-making process works at most
New York police stations and departments, but also how the legal structure
of your business affects your rights and methods by which you may be able
to recoup any stolen business proceeds.
larceny by extortion,
Manhattan Criminal Court,