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WHEN A BUSINESS DEAL GOES BAD- CONTRACTORS AND LARCENY

 

CONTRACTORS AND LARCENY- SOME PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS

In the bustling world of business transactions, trust keeps everything flowing smoothly. When that trust is betrayed, however, the consequences can be dire, both legally and financially. In New York, the laws surrounding larceny can be complicated, reflecting the nuanced ways in which individuals can be deprived of their property through deceit.

NY Law recognizes that larceny in business contexts can take place in a myriad of ways. Some such theories of larceny are embezzlement, trick, false pretense, false promise, and larceny by bad check.

Contractors in New York often find themselves on the wrong side of the law if they accept payment for services and fail to deliver on their end of the bargain. One of the primary theories underpinning a criminal prosecution in this context is the notion of false promise.

 

WAIT- I AM A CONTRACTOR AND I ACCEPTED PAYMENT BUT COULDN’T FINISH THE JOB- AM I GOING TO JAIL?

 

Business deals often fall apart. But how does a simple dispute end up in a criminal courtroom? Put another way, at what point does a contractor who accepts payment but fails to deliver engage in a form of deception that rises to theft?

Police and prosecutors typically proceed under a theory of “false promise” to argue that the contractor intended to defraud the customer. But what exactly does “false promise” entail in the eyes of the law? At its core, a false promise involves making a commitment or representation with the intent to deceive. This can take various forms, from outright lies about one’s capabilities or intentions to more subtle forms of misrepresentation. In the context of contracting, a false promise might involve assuring a client of timely completion or superior craftsmanship while knowing full well that these assurances cannot be met. At the most basic level, a false promise involves taking money without the intent to actually complete the job.

The consequences for contractors found guilty of larceny by false promise can be severe, ranging from hefty fines to imprisonment, depending on the value of the property involved and the circumstances of the case. Moreover, aside from the legal repercussions, such actions can irreparably damage one’s reputation and credibility within the industry, making it difficult to secure future contracts.

 

IF YOU’RE BEING INVESTIGATED- DON’T WAIT

 

If you’re a contractor, a routine complaint about your workmanship or business can turn into something much more serious. Attorneys Roman Misula and Avik Ganguly are experienced former prosecutors who have assisted a myriad of small business owners in navigating this perilous landscape. Whether you’re being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office or a local police department, it is imperative that you obtain experienced legal representation as soon as possible. Call us for a free consultation!

 

 

***Photo credit: “Contractor works on the roof at the Warrior Transition Unit complex” by USACE HQ is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

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