Each state has laws limiting the amount of time that can elapse between the commission of a crime and the filing of charges against the accused person. This is referred to as the "statute of limitations." Prosecutors and defense attorneys handling larceny cases in New York must know and understand the law setting the time periods within which charges must be filed, as well as the exceptions.
New York classifies larceny as either "grand larceny," where the value of the property taken is over $1000, or "petit larceny," which is the taking of property with a value up to $1000. New York uses the term "petit" while other states use "petty." Petit larceny in New York is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a criminal charge, but is not as serious as a felony. The most common example of petit larceny is shoplifting.
New York law requires the filing of criminal charges against a person who commits a crime within a specified period of time following the criminal act. This is the statute of limitations. New York Criminal Procedure Law compels the prosecution to commence criminal proceedings within two years of the commission of the crime in the case of a misdemeanor such as petit larceny.
If a criminal action is not commenced against a person within two years of the commission of the petit larceny, a judge in New York State must dismiss the charges. There are, however, circumstances under which the statute of limitations for a petit larceny can be extended.
The Criminal Procedure Law allows for the extension of the statute of limitations for a petit larceny by up to an additional five years. The statute of limitations will be extended for the period of time following commission of the crime that the person is continuously outside the State of New York. It will also be extended if the person's whereabouts within New York State are unknown. Both situations target the person who commits petit larceny and flees the state or goes into hiding.
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