Can Larceny Charges Be Dropped?

Posted on by New Mexico Criminal Law Offices

larcenyA larceny arrest can be a daunting and confusing time. You may wonder what your rights are, if you will be going to jail, or if there is a sliver of hope that the charges will be dropped. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. If you have been arrested for theft, guilty or not, you need an attorney. The only way to increase the chances for the charges to be dropped or the prosecution to agree to a lesser sentence is with the help of an attorney.

In some instances, larceny charges can be reduced or dropped entirely. However, it takes an understanding of what the crime entails and the situations where you may have the case dismissed.

What Is Larceny in Albuquerque?

Every state has their definition of larceny. In New Mexico, larceny is the theft of something of value that does not belong to that person. Therefore, larceny can include theft of multiple types of property, money, and even intangible items if there is a value to them.

Larceny encompasses a variety of theft-like crimes, such as:

  • Receiving stolen property
  • Shoplifting
  • Obtaining services or accommodations falsely
  • Fraud
  • Theft of someone’s credit card
  • Identity theft

As you can see, there are a variety of crimes that fall under larceny. Therefore, getting the charges dropped will depend heavily on the crime’s circumstances and potential defense strategies your attorney can use.

The Categories of Larceny

Larceny falls into certain categories in New Mexico . These, like most states, are based on the value of the property. The classifications are:

  • Misdemeanor Petty Theft – This involves property with a value under $250. It is a petty misdemeanor. You will not face more than six months in jail, and your fine cannot exceed $500.
  • Misdemeanor Theft – Now the property value is over $250 but not more than $500. You may face up to a year in jail or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Fourth Degree Felony Theft – Once the value exceeds $500 but is less than $2,500, you may face up to 18 months imprisonment and a fine that cannot exceed $5,000. A stolen firearm automatically qualifies as a fourth-degree felony even if the value of the firearm is less than $500.
  • Third Degree Felony Theft – The value is over $2,500 but not more than $20,000. Also, livestock of any value qualifies for a third-degree felony even if the actual cash value is less than $2,500. If convicted, you face up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Second Degree Felony Theft – The value of the stolen property is more than $20,000 (like a boat or an automobile). If convicted, you face up to nine years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

Defense Strategies May Lower the Charges

With the help of a good attorney, you may have some defense strategies at your disposal. These can lower the charges you face or even get the case dismissed. It is imperative that you only pick a defense strategy with an attorney. An attorney can review the evidence against you and determine which defense will work in your case specifically.

Some of these defenses may not help a defendant, especially if the evidence is strong against them or they have prior larceny convictions.

Right of Ownership or Belief of Ownership

One defense is that you did not commit larceny because you took property that was yours or you believed to be yours. If you can prove that you had good faith to think the property was yours, then the prosecution has no case for larceny. You carry the burden of proof, and you must show your honest intent.

Entrapment Defense

A defendant will often try this defense, but only in specific situations will entrapment truly apply. Entrapment means that one party was coerced into a crime that they usually would not have committed. Sometimes the party coercing them is law enforcement. Other times, it is a person working for law enforcement.

For example, officers left a product out in public waiting to see if someone would take it. Then, they arrested the person who took the product and charged them with larceny. In this case, entrapment did not occur. The officers left the property out, but did not coerce or force the person to commit the crime.

On the other hand, if officers left that product out, then told you to take it or encouraged you to take it, they have committed entrapment.

You Have the Owner’s Consent to Take the Property

Larceny can only occur if you are depriving the owner of their property. If you have the owner’s permission, then you have not committed larceny.

There is an exception to this rule. If someone suspects that you are going to steal their property, they may create a situation to test it out and see if their theory is correct. If the owner’s test reveals that you took the property, even though the owner set up the test, you are still committing larceny. The owner did not give consent for you to take it.

Duress

Duress means that you were forced to commit a crime under the threat of force. For example, someone threatened you with a gun to steal something or you would be injured. If you can offer proof of this claim, then you may have a viable defense.

Get Help with Your Larceny Case

You have multiple elements and defense options at play, but the only way to find the right defense for you is to hire a criminal defense attorney. Even if you cannot get the charges dismissed, your attorney may be able to get the charges lowered so that you do not have a larceny conviction on your permanent criminal record.

To explore your options and see how you can get your charges dismissed or reduced, speak with an attorney from New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. You can schedule your consultation today at 505-375-4661 or contact us online with your questions.