Vermont Laws on Petit and Grand Larceny

In Vermont, stealing property or services can result in harsh penalties, including prison sentences and steep fines.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated March 26, 2024

Larceny, embezzlement, and shoplifting offenses in Vermont quickly add up to felonies.

Understanding Vermont's Larceny (or Theft) Laws

Vermont defines larceny as the stealing or embezzling of property or services.

Stealing of property occurs when someone unlawfully takes another's property and intends to keep it wrongfully.

Stealing of services occurs when someone, knowing the services are available only by payment, uses deception or threats to unlawfully obtain the services.

Embezzlement occurs when someone, who is entrusted to control another's property, fraudulently converts the property for their own use.

Examples of larceny include stealing a vehicle or wallet, dining and dashing, shoplifting, or tricking someone into sending money (such as a charity scam). An example of embezzlement would be a son who wrongfully uses his access to his elderly mother's bank account to buy himself a sports car instead of paying her bills.

What Are the Penalties for Grand and Petit Larceny in Vermont?

Like many other states, Vermont's penalties for theft depend primarily on the value of the property or services stolen. A person who knowingly receives stolen property faces the same penalties that apply for stealing the property outright.

Grand Larceny Penalties

A person who steals property or services that exceed $900 in value commits a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Stealing property (any value) directly from a person also constitutes a 10-year felony.

Petit Larceny Penalties

Theft of property or services valued at $900 or less constitutes a misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is one years' incarceration and a $1,000 fine.

(Vt. Stat. tit. 13, §§ 2501, 2502, 2503, 2561, 2582 (2024); State v. Reed, 253 A.2d 227 (Vt. 1969).)

What Are the Penalties for Embezzlement in Vermont?

Vermont includes embezzlement under its larceny laws. Embezzlement is similar to theft by deception with the primary difference being the offender's original possession was lawful. For instance, the above example of the son who bought a sports car instead of paying his mother's bills. His possession of the funds was lawful, whereas his use of the funds was unlawful.

Embezzlement of property or money that exceeds $100 constitutes a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If embezzlement involves $100 or less in money or property, the penalty is a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one years' incarceration and $1,000 fine.

(Vt. Stat. tit. 13, § 2531 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in Vermont?

A person commits shoplifting when, intending to deprive a merchant of possession of merchandise, the person takes or carries away merchandise from a store without paying retail value.

Penalties for Retail Theft

Retail theft of merchandise valued at more than $900 is a felony subject to up to 10 years in prison and a $1,000 fine. For retail theft of $900 or less, the penalty is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months' incarceration and a $500 fine.

It's also considered retail theft to:

  • alter or remove any label or price tag and purchase the merchandise for less than retail value, or
  • make, sell, or knowingly possess a tool or device designed to avoid theft detection.

Regardless of the value of the merchandise taken, altering or removing labels or price tags on products is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine. Making, selling, or knowingly possessing a device designed to avoid theft detection is considered a 10-year felony and carries a maximum $5,000 fine.

Restitution to Merchant

The court can also make the defendant pay restitution to the store owner for damaged or unreturned stolen merchandise. Restitution is based on the retail value of the merchandise.

(Vt. Stat. tit. 13, §§ 2573, 2575, 2577, 2578 (2024).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you've been charged with larceny, embezzlement, or retail theft, speak with a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal legal system, protect your rights, and evaluate possible defenses. Even if the charges are for petit larceny, seeking an attorney's advice can be helpful. Any criminal theft record can impact your ability in the future to get a job, loan, or housing. Before making a plea deal or civil compromise (in the case of shoplifting), speak with a knowledgable attorney to understand the current and future consequences of such actions.

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