Theft or stealing is a crime in the State of Connecticut. Under Connecticut law, theft is referred to as a Larceny. There are various types of Larceny defined under General Statute §53a-119. The most common types of Larceny are embezzlement, shoplifting, failure to pay wages, and fraud. Although there are several types of Larceny, each with different elements that the state must prove, the common element among all of the various Larceny crimes is the intent to permanently deprive an individual of property by wrongfully taking or withholding such property from the owner.
There are six degrees of Larceny in the State of Connecticut, with each carrying a separate penalty. The degree of Larceny an offender is charged with will depend on the value of the property that is alleged to have been taken:
- Larceny 1 – >$20,000.00 B Felony
- Larceny 2 – >$10,000.00 C Felony
- Larceny 3 – >$2000.00 D Felony
- Larceny 4 – >$1000.00 A Misdemeanor
- Larceny 5 – >$500.00 B Misdemeanor
- Larceny 6 – <$500.00 C Misdemeanor
Defending a Larceny case can be difficult especially when other charges are involved. A Larceny charge is usually accompanied by other criminal charges, including robbery, burglary, identity theft, credit card fraud, extortion, fraudulent use of an ATM, or forgery to name a few. In many instances, these additional charges may be more serious than the Larceny charge itself and can create issues for even a seasoned criminal defense attorney.
There are diversionary programs available to individuals charged with Larceny in Connecticut. In most circumstances, a diversionary program would allow a defendant to undergo a probationary period, and, if successful, obtain a dismissal of the charge(s). In order to grant a diversionary program, a judge must find that the defendant is unlikely to offend again in the future and that the crime is not of such a serious nature as to preclude the granting of the diversionary program. As a result, in most cases, these programs are only available to those defendants that have no prior convictions, and the conditions of the probationary period usually involve payments of restitution where the crime charged is a Larceny.
Moreover, these programs are not available to those charged with Larceny in the First Degree and are only granted to those charged with Larceny in the Second Degree upon a showing of good cause. Good cause is an additional finding to those described above. A finding of “good cause” imparts a more onerous burden on the defendant due to the inherent seriousness of a Larceny in the Second Degree. It typically requires the defendant to describe to the Court some type of mitigating circumstance that warrants the granting of a diversionary program despite the seriousness of the crime charged.
For those individuals not eligible for diversionary programs, all is not lost. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a plea agreement that avoids jail time and/or a reduction in the charges, such as a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor. An important consideration when accepting a plea agreement involves any period of post-conviction monitoring, such as probation or special parole. In many circumstances, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to negotiate a conditional discharge which is a less restrictive form of monitoring, or, in rare cases, an unconditional discharge, which is a plea agreement that involves no post-conviction monitoring.
When considering a plea agreement to a Larceny charge, it is important to consider the implications a conviction may have in the future. Even in situations where a defendant is charged with a misdemeanor Larceny, if that person has two prior convictions for a Larceny of any degree and is now facing a charge of Larceny in the 4th, 5th, or 6th degrees, there is a possibility that the State’s Attorney handling that case may seek persistent larceny offender status. This is a sentence enhancement that increases the penalties for a misdemeanor Larceny to those of a Class D felony. This may compound the need for the involvement of an experienced criminal defense attorney from the outset of the case in order to potentially minimize the possible penalties associated with a conviction.