Connecticut Laws on Larceny, Theft, and Shoplifting

Stealing property, money, or services can land you behind bars for months or even years. Learn about the penalties for larceny in Connecticut.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated August 15, 2022

In Connecticut, a person who wrongfully takes another property and doesn't intend to give it back commits larceny (or theft). The crime can be as simple as stealing a bike or as complex as embezzling funds from an employer—all are considered larceny. Stealing services and utilities without payment or through fraud also count as larceny.

This article will review charges and penalties for larceny offenses in Connecticut.

What Is Larceny?

Connecticut law defines larceny—also called theft—as the wrongful taking, obtaining, or withholding of someone else's property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property or to appropriate it to a third person. Larceny includes theft of property, services, utilities, and motor fuel, as well as:

Instead of dividing up many of these similar offenses, Connecticut combines most of them in its main larceny statute.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-119 (2022).)

Degrees of Larceny Charges and Penalties in Connecticut

Connecticut law classifies and penalizes larceny offenses based on several factors: the value of stolen property or services, the type of property or services, and in some cases, the victim involved. Larceny charges can range from a misdemeanor to a serious felony.

Sixth-Degree Larceny

If the value of property or services involved in the theft is $500 or less, the offense constitutes 6th degree larceny, a class C misdemeanor. A class C misdemeanor carries a maximum three-month jail term and a $500 fine.

Fifth-Degree Larceny

Theft of property or services valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000 qualifies as 5th degree larceny, a class B misdemeanor. A person convicted of a class B misdemeanor faces six months of jail time and a fine of up to $1,000.

Fourth-Degree Larceny

When the value of property or services stolen is between $1,000 and $2000, the offense is classified as 4th degree larceny, a class A misdemeanor. Punishment for a class A misdemeanor is a maximum one-year jail term and a $2,000 fine.

Third-Degree Larceny

A person commits 3rd degree larceny when the theft involves:

  • property or services valued at more than $2,000 but less than $10,000
  • a motor vehicle valued at less than $10,000
  • a public record or instrument, or
  • a trade secret.

Third-degree larceny is a class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Second-Degree Larceny

Second-degree (2nd degree) larceny is a class C felony and occurs when the theft involves:

  • property or services valued at more than $10,000 but less than $20,000
  • a motor vehicle valued at over $10,000
  • property (any value) taken directly from a person
  • public community property valued at $2,000 or less and obtained by fraud
  • property obtained through embezzlement, false pretenses, or false promise, where the victim is age 60 or older, under conservatorship or guardianship, or physically disabled, or
  • telecommunications property (such as cables or wires) and the crime interrupts emergency communication services.

Stealing a firearm (regardless of value) also constitutes a class C felony.

A class C felony carries a sentence of imprisonment from one to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.

First-Degree Larceny

A person convicted of 1st degree larceny faces a class B felony, punishable by one to 20 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. First-degree larceny involves the following types of theft:

  • extortion (obtaining property or service through threats)
  • theft of property, services, or a motor vehicle valued at more than $20,000, or
  • theft of public community property exceeding $2,000 in value and obtained by fraud.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 53a-35a, -36, -41, -42, -122 to -125b, 212 (2022).)

Enhanced Penalties for Persistent Larceny Offenders

Under Connecticut's sentencing laws, enhanced penalties apply to "persistent larceny offenders" who commit a third misdemeanor offense (4th-, 5th-, or 6th-degree larceny). Instead of a misdemeanor penalty, the law allows the judge to impose a class E felony sentence of up to three years in prison and a $3,500 fine if the current conviction is 4th degree larceny. For 5th and 6th degree larceny convictions, the penalty enhances one misdemeanor level.

Repeat felony offenders (larceny or other crimes) can also face enhanced penalties.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-40 (2022).)

Defenses to Larceny Charges in Connecticut

A person facing larceny charges has several possible defenses and defense strategies available. One might be an alibi defense—"It wasn't me; it was someone else."

Your attorney might also try to poke holes in the prosecution's case by arguing that you never intended to keep the property or not return it. Say, you borrowed the property and fully intended to return it to the owner. If your attorney can convince the jury that you didn't intend to permanently deprive another of their property, the prosecutor hasn't met its burden of proof on every element of the case and the jury must acquit.

Another defense strategy is to challenge the value of the items in question. Proving an item is worth much less than what the prosecution claims could mean the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor.

Shoplifting Offenses and Penalties in Connecticut

Shoplifting offenses carry both criminal and civil penalties in Connecticut.

Criminal Penalties for Shoplifting in Connecticut

As noted above, Connecticut includes shoplifting crimes under the general larceny statute with penalties based on the value of the goods stolen.

Connecticut also makes it a crime to possess a shoplifting device—one that can be used to defeat an antitheft or inventory control device—under circumstances indicating an intent to shoplift. A conviction for possession of a shoplifting device is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a years' incarceration and a $2,000 fine. (Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-127f (2022).)

Civil Penalties for Shoplifting in Connecticut

In addition to criminal penalties, a store owner can bring a civil action for damages against an alleged shoplifter. Connecticut's definition of shoplifting (for civil liability purposes) includes stealing merchandise from a store or any agricultural produce kept, grown, or raised on a property.

Adults and emancipated minors are liable in shoplifting cases to the store owner for the following:

  • the retail value of the merchandise or produce taken (if not recovered in a sellable condition)
  • punitive damages (a penalty) up to $300, and
  • reasonable court costs and attorneys' fees.

(Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-564a (2022).)

Talk to an Attorney

If you're facing charges for larceny, theft, or shoplifting, speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system, raise defenses, and protect your rights. Be sure to ask your attorney about any immediate and future consequences associated with a guilty plea, plea bargain, or civil settlement (in the case of shoplifting). Having a criminal record for larceny or theft can make it more difficult to get a job, housing, or loan in the future.

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