Embezzlement is one of several methods for committing the overarching crime of larceny, which involves the wrongful taking or withholding of property from its rightful owner. Embezzlement is when property is taken by a person entrusted to hold it on behalf of the rightful owner, often an employer or client. In New York, embezzlement is included within the larceny statutes, rather than as a stand alone statute. A prime example of embezzlement is when property is entrusted by the owner to persons having a fiduciary obligation, such as officers or directors of a corporation, or a bailee, agent, or trustee.
For purposes of New York's larceny statutes, "property" means "any money, personal property, real property, computer data, computer program, thing in action, evidence of debt or contract, or any article, substance or thing of value, including any gas, steam, water or electricity, which is provided for a charge or compensation."
New York Embezzlement Laws At A Glance
The chart below contains some additional information on embezzlement-related laws in New York.
|Penalties and Sentences
The degree of a larceny-by-embezzlement offense depends in large part on the value of the property stolen. Embezzlement of property exceeding $1,000 in value constitutes fourth-degree grand larceny, a class E felony. However embezzlement of property exceeding $1,000,0000 in value is a first-degree offense and a class B felony.
Classifications of grand larceny offenses range from class E to class B felonies. Such convictions carry a sentence of at least 3 years and up to 25 years in prison. In addition, the court may impose a fine which is the greater of $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant's gain from commission of the crime.
It is an affirmative defense to the charge of larceny if:
- The property was obtained under a claim of right made in good faith; or
- The defendant obtained the property by instilling fear that the victim would be charged with a crime so long as the defendant reasonably believed the threatened charge to be true and the sole purpose was to induce the victim to take reasonable action to take corrective action
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Additional Resources For New York Embezzlement Laws
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Learn More About New York's Embezzlement Laws by Talking to an Attorney
As you can see, there are multiple elements to an embezzlement charge that a prosecutor must prove, and criminal sentences can vary based on how the property at issue is valued. If you're facing charges for embezzlement, or any other crimes, it's important to speak with a local criminal defense attorney who can challenge the prosecution's case or negotiate a plea deal.