Petit Larceny vs. Grand Larceny: Know the Difference
If you face a theft offense, you must know the difference between petit larceny and grand larceny under New Mexico law. The difference between the two will directly impact the potential penalties you face and could drastically affect the rest of your life. Theft offenses of any magnitude are no laughing matter and are best handled by an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you are facing a theft offense in New Mexico, do not hesitate to reach out to the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices to learn more about your options.
New Mexico Law
The New Mexico legislature broadly defines larceny as stealing anything of value that belongs to another person. Like most states, New Mexico generally classifies larceny according to the value of the stolen goods or services. In certain instances, the value of the property stolen is less important than the type of property stolen (e.g., firearms and livestock).
Larceny covers many theft crimes, including shoplifting, receiving stolen property, credit card theft, and falsely obtaining services.
What Is Petit Larceny?
Petit larceny is just a fancy way of saying petty theft. Under New Mexico law, a person is guilty of petty misdemeanor larceny if the value of property stolen is $250 or less. But don’t assume that this charge won’t impact your life just because the value of goods is relatively minor. Any criminal conviction can upend your life by making it harder to get a job, find a place to live, or even obtain higher education or some professional licenses. Getting a seasoned lawyer to defend you is one way to help ensure that the negative consequences are as light as possible.
What Is Grand Larceny?
According to New Mexico law, there is no definitive delineation for “grand larceny.” However, second-degree felony larceny is generally considered the closest thing to grand theft in our state laws. An individual is guilty of second-degree felony larceny if the property or services stolen is valued at more than $20,000.
You might be thinking there are a lot of goods or services valued between $20,000 and $250 (petty theft), and you would be correct.
Below is a simple breakdown of the value ranges between the different New Mexico larceny offenses.
- Petty misdemeanor: Involves goods or services valued at $250 or less.
- Misdemeanor: Involves goods or services valued at $250 to $500.
- Fourth-degree felony: Involves goods or services valued at more than $500 but less than $2,500.
- Third-degree felony: Involves goods or services valued at more than $2,500 but less than $20,000.
- Second-degree felony: Involves goods or services valued at over $20,000.
There are a few caveats to these general monetary classifications. It is a third-degree felony if the property stolen is livestock, regardless of value. For instance, stealing livestock worth only $500 is considered a third-degree felony.
If the property stolen is a firearm, it is a fourth-degree felony if the value of the gun is less than $2,500. In other words, even if the firearm is only worth $300, you will still face a fourth-degree felony charge rather than a misdemeanor offense for stealing a firearm.
The general reasoning behind the livestock and firearm exceptions rests in public policy.
Penalties for Larceny
Below is a summary of New Mexico larceny penalties from the most severe offense down to the least severe. All larceny convictions, even petty theft, will result in a criminal record.
Second-Degree Felony Larceny
A conviction for second-degree felony larceny will result in the following:
- Up to 9 years in prison, and
- Up to a $10,000 fine.
You will also have a felony conviction on your record.
Third-Degree Felony Larceny
A conviction for third-degree felony larceny will result in the following:
- Up to 3 years in prison, and
- Up to a $5,000 fine.
Except for less incarceration time and lower fines, a third-degree felony larceny conviction is just as profound as a second-degree conviction.
Fourth-Degree Felony Larceny
A conviction for fourth-degree felony larceny will result in the following:
- Up to 18 months in prison, and
- Up to a $5,000 fine
Remember, if you have a prior felony conviction, New Mexico habitual offender law adds 1 year to your sentence for any felony larceny offense. The enhanced penalties increase to 4 years if you have 2 prior felony convictions and 8 additional years if you have 3 or more prior felony convictions.
A conviction for misdemeanor larceny will result in the following:
- Up to 1 year in jail, and
- Up to a $1,000 fine.
A misdemeanor larceny conviction can still wreak havoc on your life. So don’t let the term “misdemeanor” fool you—these charges require a strong defense.
Petty Misdemeanor Larceny
A conviction for petty misdemeanor larceny will result in the following:
- Up to 6 months in jail, and
- Up to a $500 fine.
Although labeled “petty,” a petty larceny conviction will still leave you with a stained criminal record that could impede your ability to earn a living, apply for loans, join the military, and more.
A larceny conviction of any magnitude carries a negative stigma which might make the people around you uncomfortable and less inclined to carry on a professional or personal relationship.
Defenses to Larceny
As with any criminal offense, the prosecutor must prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction. Larceny offenses are serious but not unbeatable. There are several possible defenses to larceny accusations, including the following:
- Constitutional rights violations (e.g., illegal search or seizure);
- Lack of intent; and
- Mistaken identity.
When you meet with us, we will assess your case and discuss the potential defenses you may have available.
Larceny Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you find yourself in trouble for theft, it is crucial to understand the difference between petit larceny and grand larceny. Retaining a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney to combat these allegations is even more critical. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we have successfully represented individuals accused of larceny crimes over the last 22 years. We are knowledgeable in the law and familiar with the local courthouses, prosecutors, and judges. Contact us today to schedule a confidential and free consultation.