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Other Offenses Relating to Theft

The most common charge in this chapter is theft of services, PL 165.15, which makes it a Class A misdemeanor to intentionally steal services without paying for them. This charge, sometimes referred to as a “farebeat,” is routinely applied to “turnstile jumpers” and others that enter the New York City subway system without paying their fares, but this charge has many other applications as well. For example, people that eat at restaurants or stay at hotels and skip out on the bill can be charged with theft of services. Also, people that steal certain telephone or cable services are at risk of being charged with theft of services. This is hardly an exhaustive list, however. Note, also, that when the stolen services are in excess of $1,000, there is no felony theft of services charge, unlike the larceny of property statutes in Article 155.

Key Penal Law Provisions:

  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the third degree, P. L. 165.05, a class A misdemeanor
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the second degree, PL 165.06, a class E felony
  • Unauthorized use of a vehicle in the first degree, PL 165.08, a class D felony
  • Theft of services, P. L. 165.15, a class A misdemeanor
  • Jostling, P. L. 165.25, a class A misdemeanor
  • Fraudulent accosting, P. L. 165.30, a class A misdemeanor
  • Criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree, P. L. 165.40, a class A misdemeanor
  • Criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree, P. L. 165.45, a class E felony
  • Criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, PL 165.50, a class D felony
  • Criminal possession of stolen property in the second degree, P. L. 165.52, a class C felony
  • Criminal possession of stolen property in the first degree, P. L. 165.54, a class B felony
  • Trademark counterfeiting in the third degree, P. L. 165.71, a class A misdemeanor
  • Trademark counterfeiting in the second degree, P. L. 165.72, a class E felony
  • Trademark counterfeiting in the first degree, P. L. 165.73, a class D felony

A person is guilty of the class A misdemeanor of criminal possession of stolen property in the fifth degree when he knowingly possesses stolen property with intent to benefit himself or a person other than an owner of the property, or to impede the recovery of the property by the owner. The other degrees of Criminal Possession of Stolen Property depend on the value of the stolen property, much like the Grand Larceny statutes in Article 155: Fourth Degree requires that the property be worth $1,000 or more, Third Degree requires $3,000, Second Degree requires $50,000, and First Degree, a Class B felony, requires $1,000,000 or more. Criminal Possession of Stolen Property in the Fourth Degree – a Class E felony – also applies to the knowing possession of stolen credit or debit cards and stolen motor vehicles worth more than $100, among other things. Notably, if one possesses two or more stolen credit or debit cards they are presumed to know that they are stolen (PL 165.55[3]).

Fraudulent accosting, a class A misdemeanor, is charged when a person accosts a person in a public place with intent to defraud him of money or other property by means of a trick, swindle, or confidence game. This charge frequently arises in situations where a person is attempting to entice another to play in a three-card monte game (or some other type of hustle). This charge is also oftentimes levied against those caught selling “beat drugs,” or imitation narcotics, on the street.

As explained in the section discussing article 155, it is a class E felony (grand larceny in the fourth degree) to intentionally steal property from the person of another. However, it is also a class A misdemeanor (Jostling, Penal Law 165.25) to intentionally and unnecessarily place one’s hand in the proximity of a person’s pocket or handbag, or to jostle or crowd another person at a time when a third person’s hand is in the proximity of such person’s pocket or handbag. Thus, this charge occurs most frequently when a person is observed in the act of an unsuccessful attempt at Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree.

“Joyriding” in a motor vehicle is also expressly prohibited in Article 165. Specifically,Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle in the Third Degree makes it a Class A misdemeanor to take, operate, exercise control over, ride in or otherwise use a vehicle without the owner’s consent. It also prohibits a custodian of a vehicle from possessing another’s vehicle for a period of time that would constitute a “gross deviation” from the agreement. Repeat offenders of this law can be charged with the class E felony of unauthorized use of a vehicle in the second degree, and those that use motor vehicles without consent in order to commit a class D or higher felony crime can be charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle in the first degree, a class D felony.

The trademark counterfeiting laws in article 165 of the Penal Law prohibit the knowing and intentional sale of counterfeit goods, as well as the knowing possession with the intent to sell. Thus, although it may not be illegal to possess a fake Gucci handbag, it would probably be illegal to possess it for the purpose of sale. Representatives from luxury goods companies like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Ralph Lauren frequently work hand-in-hand with law enforcement officers to perform undercover sting operations of large-scale vendors of counterfeit goods. The goods can be seized and destroyed and the proceeds of the sales can be subject to civil forfeiture. Furthermore, although small-scale selling is only a class A misdemeanor, if the value of the property sold or possessed for the purpose of sale exceeds $1,000, then it is a class E felony. Finally, the class C felony of trademark counterfeiting in the first degree applies where the value of the counterfeit property in question exceeds $100,000.