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How Much Jail Time Do You Get for Larceny?


Larceny is a theft crime in New Mexico. Whether you serve time in jail and how much time you serve, however, depends on the value of the property.

Like all property and theft crimes, the value plays a heavy role in your punishment – and the judge will consider that first before sentencing you. If you have been arrested and charged with larceny, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A larceny charge, even as a misdemeanor, can result in serious, life-altering consequences, regardless if you serve any time in jail.

Understanding the Classifications of Theft Crimes and How Much Jail Time You Would Get If Convicted

Larceny offenses are classified by value, and the value ranges determine which classification you fall into; thus, determining how many days you will serve in jail or prison.

Misdemeanor Petty Larceny – Up to 6 Months in County Jail

Misdemeanor petty larceny is the lowest of theft crimes. You face this charge if the value of the stolen goods was $250 or less, and you are charged with a misdemeanor offense.

The maximum you can serve is up to six months in county jail, but if it is your first offense, you are likely to serve well under that. Sometimes, judges will give you probation and no jail time, depending on your ties to the community, history of criminal acts, and the circumstances that led to the theft charges in the first place.

You must also pay a fine of up to $500. You can pay the fine and serve jail time together, and the amount is up to the judge’s discretion.

Misdemeanor Larceny – Up to One Year in County Jail

Misdemeanor larceny charges are filed when the value of the stolen property is more than $250 but under $500. You can serve up to a one-year maximum in a county jail, if convicted, and you must pay no more than $1,000 in fines. Again, the judge can use his or her discretion with sentencing here, but they cannot issue more than 12 months in jail.

Fourth-Degree Felony Larceny – Up to 18 Months in Prison

Now you have entered felony charges, which means you will serve your time in a state prison rather than a county jail facility.

When the value of the stolen goods exceeds $500 but is less than $2,500, you will face a fourth-degree felony larceny charge. You can spend up to 18 months in a state prison, and you may face up to $5,000 in court fines.

Third-Degree Felony Larceny – Up to 3 Years in Prison

When the value of the goods exceeds $2,500 but remains under $20,000, you are charged with a third-degree felony. Now you could face up to three years in a state prison and fines of up to $5,000 (or both). Again, the judge can use his or her discretion, but they cannot exceed the maximum of three years.

Second-Degree Felony Larceny – Up to 9 Years in Prison

A second-degree felony can include up to nine years in a state prison along with a fine of up to $10,000. You only face second-degree felony larceny when the stolen property has exceeded $20,000. For example, stealing a motor vehicle may result in a second-degree felony larceny charge.

While a judge can use his or her discretion, the higher the value of the property, the less lenient they will be at your sentencing – regardless if it is your first offense.

How Prior Convictions Affect a Judge’s Decision

The statute has maximum sentences for each category of larceny, which means the judge will use his or her discretion to determine which sentence you should receive. Often, they hear arguments from both sides (defense and prosecution) at the sentencing hearing phase of the trial. During this stage, the judge will consider evidence from each party to decide where you fall in the standard sentencing.

New Mexico’s statutes might not address past convictions directly, and they are not used as a “standard,” but judicial discretion is subjective. A judge may feel that, if it is not your first criminal act, you will offend again; therefore, they may impose the maximum allowable sentence for punishment.

In most cases, a judge will add a year to your sentence for every felony (theft) case you have in the past. Therefore, if you have up to nine years but your defense attorney makes a case for only five years, the judge may still add one more for a total of six years.

Hiring an Attorney Is Crucial

Jail time is not the only concern you should have when charged with larceny. Larceny is a theft crime, and any criminal record can negatively impact the rest of your life. You may be disqualified from future employment opportunities, rejected for housing applications, and you could lose rights to certain government programs. If convicted of a felony, the consequences worsen.

It is imperative that you hire an attorney early on in your case. Already, you have an arrest record that will be there even if you are not officially found guilty. You need an attorney to protect your rights, help prevent lifelong, devastating consequences of a conviction, and argue to ensure you do not serve more time in jail than necessary (if convicted).

The attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices understand how important it is to act quickly in these types of cases. That is why we offer a free case evaluation so that you can meet with an attorney and explore your rights.

Get started by scheduling a free case evaluation. You can also request more information about our criminal defense services online or ask for an appointment through our online contact form.