Theft Crimes

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CONNECTICUT LARCENY AND THEFT CRIMES

(Connecticut General Statutes C.G.S. § 53a-119 and §§ 53a-122 through 53a-125b)

I.   LARCENY

In the general sense, a larceny is the theft of someone else's personal or real property. Connecticut law defines a larceny as the wrongful taking of another's property with the specific intent to permanently keep it for himself or herself or a third party.

Connecticut has six (6) different degrees of larceny; the charges in which the state will bring depend on the value of goods or services wrongfully taken. See below sentencing table.

There are many different variations of larceny depending on the unique facts particular to each case. Here are just some of the many different types of larceny, listed under Connecticut General Statute CGS CGS § 53a-119:

  • Embezzlement
  • Larceny by False Pretense
  • Larceny by trick or false promise
  • Acquiring property lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake
  • Extortion
  • Defrauding of public community
  • Theft of services
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Shoplifting
  • Conversion of a motor vehicle
  • Library theft
  • Conversion of leased property
  • Theft of motor fuel (or siphoning gas)

Prosecution of Larceny in Connecticut

In order to be found guilty of any degree of larceny, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following sub-components (or “elements”) of the crime:

  • (1) Theft of property;
  • (2) You had the specific intent to commit a larceny; AND
  • (3) The property taken had some value.
  1. Theft of Property

This element requires that you wrongfully took, obtained, or withheld property without legal justification. For example, if you took the property as an honest mistake thinking that it was yours (e.g. there were two of the same jacket in a coat closet), you had proper justification and thus would not be a ‘wrongful' taking.

Property can be any service, business expectation, public record or legal document, commodity, utility, or really anything of value. The victim need not be the owner or titleholder of/to the property, just someone who had a superior right to it. For example, if Person A borrows a coat from Person B (owner), but you steal that coat, it is still a larceny even though you didn't steal it directly form the owner.

  1. Larcenous Intent

Larcenous intent means you intended, or was your conscious objective, to permanently deprive the victim of their property to keep it for yourself or for some other person's benefit.

It does not matter how good one's intentions are or how selfless their motivation; it is still a crime so long as elements of the crime are met. For example, Robin Hood would still be found guilty of larceny for stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, and in many cases, robbery as well.

  1. Value of Property or Service Taken

The degree of larceny in which you are charges depend on both the kind of property taken and the value of that property, which is as follows:

  • 1st degree larceny: value of property was > $20,000.
  • 2nd degree larceny: value was > $10,000.
  • 3rd degree larceny: value was > $2,000.
  • 4th degree larceny: value was > $1,000.
  • 5th degree larceny: value was > $500.
  • 6th degree larceny: value was = $500 or less.

If there are multiple items stolen by the defendant(s), the values can be aggregated, if all were taken during the course of the same criminal incident.

Defenses to Larceny

There are several defenses that a skilled and experienced Connecticut theft lawyer can bring that may acquit of a larceny charge. Some of those defenses might include the following:

  • Accelerated Rehabilitation Program: If you have no priors you can apply for the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program, and if you successfully complete all the terms of probation, the court will dismiss the charges.
  • Reasonable mistake of fact: It was a reasonable mistake that you took someone else's property and thus you did not have larcenous intent.
  • The prosecution failed to prove their case: It is the state's job to prove each and every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not the defendant's job to prove or make a case; in fact, you could bring no defense at all, say nothing, call no witnesses at trial, and if the prosecution has not met their burden of proof, you should not be found guilty.
  • Intoxication: You may be able to argue that because you were intoxicated, you did not have the specific intent to commit larceny, a required element of the crime.
  • You were the joint or co-owner of the property alleged to be stolen.
  • You were a creditor with a security interest in the property and had an agreement in place, which allowed you to recover the property.

Sentencing and Punishment for a Larceny Conviction in Connecticut

Type of property

Property Value

Degree of Larceny

Crime Classification

Punishment

Motor vehicle

> $20,000

1st degree larceny

Class B Felony

§ Up to 20 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 15k in fines

 

> $10,000

2nd degree larceny

Class C Felony

§ Up to 10 yrs. in prison; and/or

Up to 10k in fines

 

< $10,000

3rd degree larceny

Class D Felony

§ Up to 5 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 5k in fines

From a public community

> $2,000

1st degree larceny

Class B Felony

§ Up to 20 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 15k in fines

 

< $2,000

2nd degree larceny

Class C Felony

§ Up to 10 yrs. in prison

§ Up to 10k in fines

Public records

Any

3rd degree larceny

Class D Felony

§ Up to 5 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 5k in fines

Scientific / technical

Any

3rd degree larceny

Class D Felony

§ Up to 5 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 5k in fines

All other property

> $20,000

1st degree larceny

Class B Felony

§ Up to 20 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 15k in fines

 

> $10,000

2nd degree larceny

Class C Felony

§ Up to 10 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 10k in fines

 

> $2,000

3rd degree larceny

Class D Felony

§ Up to 5 yrs. in prison; and/or

§ Up to 5k in fines

 

> $1,000

4th degree larceny

Class A Misdemeanor

§ Up to 1 yrs. in jail; and/or

§ Up to 2k in fines

 

> $500

5th degree larceny

Class B Misdemeanor

§ Up to 6 months in jail; and/or

§ Up to 1k in fines

 

$500 or <

6th degree larceny

Class C Misdemeanor

§ Up to 3 months in jail; and/or

§ Up to $500 in fines

Sentencing enhancements could apply depending on the physical status of the victim or “complainant,” such as if he or she was blind, elderly, or disabled.

In addition to the above penalties, you may be required to pay restitution to the complainant, meaning you have to pay back the value of whatever you stole. Moreover, the complainant could also have civil remedies against you, that is, they could bring a civil lawsuit against you and, if successful, obtain a judgment against you for their loss of property.

Persistent Larceny Offender Enhancement

When you are arrested for larceny, the state will check your record to see if you any prior convictions for larceny. If you (1) have been convicted of larceny prior to commission of the current larceny charge (2) were sentenced to jail or prison for more than 1 year (i.e. 366 days or more), you will be found to be a persistent offender of larceny and will face increased penalties if convicted of a subsequent offense.[1]

II.   SHOPLIFTING

Shoplifting is just a larceny in the commercial business context when the owner or employee of a store catches a patron in the act of the theft or larceny.

Prosecution of Shoplifting in Connecticut CT

The elements the state must show under CGS § 53a-119a are slightly different than a straight larceny charge. In order to be convicted of larceny by shoplifting, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the following elements of the crime:

  • (1) You took possession of the property of another;
  • (2) The property you possessed was either goods, wares, or merchandise on display for sale;
  • (3) You specifically intended or was your conscious objective to take the property without paying for it and convert it for your own use; AND
  • (4) Value of the property[2]

Possession

The element of possession is met, not only if the goods or merchandise was found on your person, but also if you placed the item in some other location or with another person within your control.

Intent to Shoplift

If a jury finds that you intentionally concealed goods or merchandise in or outside of the store in which you're accused of shoplifting, that would be sufficient for a jury to find specific intent to convert the property.

False Arrest is Not a Defense

A store merchant is lawfully permitted to hold or arrest you for a reasonable amount of time in order to investigate a possible theft and call police, so long as there is some reasonable basis for doing so. This is known as the shopkeeper's privilege. The fact that the store employee or merchant detains you to investigate a theft is not a defense and generally does not give rise to a claim against the store or employee even if they ultimately were mistaken. On the other hand, if their actions were unreasonable, or detained you for an unreasonable amount of time before calling the police, you could a civil claim for damages.

Penalties for Shoplifting

The penalties for shoplifting are the same as for a larceny in that it depends on the type of goods stolen and the value of those goods. For the shoplifting sentencing guidelines, refer to the table above.

III.   EXTORTION

Extortion is a larceny or theft accomplished by a threat of future harm or exposing harmful information about another. In short, extortion is when someone threatens another by communicating that UNLESS you give me/someone else some property, you or someone else will do something harmful to hurt the victim's interests. Put another way, give me/someone else your property OR ELSE.

There are several specific instances of conduct enumerated in the statute that constitutes extortion. If you or another acting on your behalf threatens or induces another to deliver property OR ELSE you/another will do any of the following, Connecticut CT law views such threats as extortionate in nature:

  • You or someone else will physically injure another person.[3]
  • You or someone else will damage another person's property.[4]
  • You or someone else will do something that amounts to a crime.[5]
  • You or someone else will accused will accuse another person of a crime or bring criminal charges against him/her.[6]
  • You or someone else will expose a secret about another person or publicize an embarrassing or reputation-damaging fact about that person.[7]
  • You or someone else will cause a strike, boycott, or institute a collective bargain action that will be harmful to one's business.[8]
  • You or someone else will testify against another person, refuse to testify, or withhold information that would be helpful to another person's legal defense in a criminal case or in a civil suit.[9]
  • You or someone else will abuse their or someone else's position of power to negatively affect another's person's interest.[10]
  • You or someone else will do something that will harm another person or is adverse to that person's interests.[11]

Prosecution of Extortion in Connecticut

In order to be convicted of extortion in Connecticut CT, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you:

  • (1) Obtained another's property;
  • (2) Accomplished this through extortionate conduct (described above); AND
  • (3) Had larcenous intent in doing so.

Sentencing and Punishment for Extortion

A larceny by extortion is a first-degree larceny—or Class B felony—regardless of the type of property stolen. If convicted, you face the following penalties:

  • Up to 20 years in prison; and/or
  • Up to $15,000 in fines

Other Related Crimes:

  • Embezzlement
  • Burglary
  • Robbery
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Credit Card Theft
  • Identity Theft
  • Counterfeiting
  • Fraud Charges
  • Forgery

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If you or someone you know has been arrested for Larceny or Shoplifting in New Haven or Fairfield County, including Madison, Guilford, Branford, East Haven, New Haven, North Haven, Milford, Stamford, Darien, Greenwich, or Fairfield, call us today at (203) 518-8010. We are here to help free of any judgment.

[1] CGS § 53a-40 (e)

[2] The value of property will determine what degree of shoplifting you will be charged as with larceny (see above chart)

[3] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (A)

[4] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (B)

[5] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (C)

[6] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (D)

[7] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (E)

[8] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (F)

[9] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (G)

[10] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (H)

[11] CGS § 53a-119 (5) (I)

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