Defining Theft Under Vermont Law
Vermont law defines theft as the stealing of property that is owned by another person -- including money, goods, bank notes, bonds, and public records. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2501.) Vermont criminal statutes also identify a number of specific theft offenses, including:
- larceny from the person (§ 2503.)
- unauthorized use of boats or aircraft (§ 2505.)
- embezzlement (§ 2531.)
- receiving stolen property (§ 2561.)
- theft of services (§ 2532.)
- retail theft or shoplifting (§ 2575.)
- theft of rented property (§ 2591.), and
- failure to return a rented or leased motor vehicle (§ 2592.)
Vermont law also addresses in great detail various forms of theft based on the position of the person committing the theft, such as a school official, bank officer, trustee, executor, or guardian. For more information on these specific forms of theft, see the full text of Vermont’s theft statutes located at Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2501, et seq.
Classification of Theft Offenses and Penalties in Vermont
Like many other states, Vermont classifies its theft offenses according to the value of the property that is taken. Vermont has a relatively simple classification scheme for theft offenses, in that it divides theft into only two different categories -- petit larceny and grand theft. Let’s start by taking a closer look at the lowest level of theft under Vermont law, or petit larceny.
The lowest-level theft offense in Vermont is called "petit larceny" (or petty theft) which is defined as theft of property valued at no more than $900. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2502.) Petit larceny in Vermont is punishable by no more than one year of imprisonment, a fine of no more than $1,000, or both. (§ 2502.)
Theft of property valued at more than $900 is defined as "grand theft" in Vermont. (§ 2501.) Grand larceny in Vermont is punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment, a fine of no more than $5,000, or both. (§ 2501.)
Retail Theft / Shoplifting
Vermont laws treat shoplifting with more leniency as compared to other theft offenses. A person who shoplifts merchandise having a retail value of $900 or less is subject to punishment by a term of imprisonment of no more than six months, a fine of no more than $500, or both. Shoplifting of merchandise valued at over $900 is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 10 years, a fine of no more than $1,000. (§ 2577.)
Other types of theft offenses are not classified as either grand theft or petit larceny under Vermont law. Rather, each specific theft-related offense has its own penalty, defined within the text of the statute. Most of these offenses carry a potential term of incarceration of no more than 10 years, and a fine of no more than $500 (or no more than $1,000 in some cases). A conviction for a theft-related offense also can require an offender to pay restitution for the stolen property (compensation for the dollar value of the property) if it is not recovered, or if it is recovered in a damaged condition.
Civil Penalties for Theft in Vermont
In addition to criminal penalties, any person over 16 years of age who commits shoplifting in the state of Vermont is civilly liable to the store owner for:
- money damages equal to the retail value of the merchandise, if not returned in sellable condition, and
- a civil penalty of two times the retail price of the merchandise, in the amount of at least $25, and no more than $300. (Vt. Stat. Ann. tit. 13, § 2579.)
Effect of Prior Convictions on Theft Charges in Vermont
The effect of prior convictions on a subsequent theft charge in Vermont is not specifically covered in Vermont’s criminal statutes. In general, any prior criminal conviction on an offender’s record -- whether for a theft-related offense or for any other type of crime -- is likely to mean harsher punishments come sentencing time.
You can conduct your own legal research or speak to a Vermont criminal law attorney to understand how prior theft-related convictions (or any kind of convictions) might affect a theft charge in Vermont.