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Connecticut General Statutes Section § 53a-125b - Larceny in the 6th Degree - Shoplifting

Larceny in the 6th degree is commonly charged as shoplifting in Connecticut. This statute applies to any larceny where the monetary value of the item, property, or services involved in the larceny is $500 or less. Under Connecticut law, there are six degrees of larceny, ranging from larceny in the 6th degree to larceny in the 1st degree. The major difference between the degrees of larceny is generally the value of the property or services involved in the theft. Therefore, it would be possible to be charged with shoplifting as larceny in the 1st degree if the amount of the property alleged to have been stolen is over $20,000. Hence, the degree of a shoplifting charge depends on the value of the merchandise involved in the theft.

Elements of the Crime Which must be Proven by The State

In order to be found guilty of larceny in the 6th degree under General Statutes § 53a-125b the state of Connecticut has the burden to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that acting with an intent to take the property of another the defendant engaged in one of the following acts and did so while maintaining the required level of mental intention. The acts include:

  1. Intentionally removing goods or merchandise from the premises of any consumer merchant or store without paying for the merchandise or goods.
  2. Intentionally concealing merchandise or goods that you have not paid for while you are either inside or outside the premises of the store or merchant is considered by law to be prima facia proof that you concealed the merchandise or goods with the intention of shoplifting them. See, Conn. General Statutes §53a-119(9).
  3. Intentionally altering, defacing, switching, swapping, or changing a price tag on merchandise, goods, or an item to change the price to a lower price. You can be arrested for shoplifting if you are caught with the merchandise with the altered price tags in the store or if you purchase them for the lower price.
  4. Intentionally failing to scan items in a self check out lane and attempting to pass all points of sale without paying for merchandise in a shopping cart or bags.

Connecticut General Statutes §53a-119a empowers owners of stores or their agents or employees (usually loss prevention agents) to detain suspected shoplifters for a short period of time until police can arrive. The statute only authorizes these agents or employees to question the alleged shoplifter regarding their name and address.

However, usually, suspects are coerced into signing statements and making confessions before the police are called. It is essential to understand that you do not have to speak to these loss prevention agents or employees, and you do not have to answer any questions that the police may ask you ether. You have the right to remain silent and should always insist on having an attorney present before answering any questions.

The retail value of the merchandise or goods is used to determine the degree of larceny. For larceny in the 6th degree Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-125b, the amount of the items alleged to have been stolen has to be under $500.

Related Offenses
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-48 – Conspiracy
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-192a – Identity Theft
  • Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-128c – Credit Card Theft
Defenses to Shoplifting

For first time larceny in the 6th degree (shoplifting) offenders, often a skilled Connecticut criminal defense attorney can negotiate a resolution of your case to have the charges nolled or dropped in exchange for a charitable contribution or community service hours. Another common approach for first-time offenders is to use a diversionary program, which would result in a dismissal of the charges.

When defending a shoplifting case, the best approach is first carefully to review the specific facts of your individual case. Since shoplifting is a crime that requires the prosecutor to prove a specific intent to steal item(s) without paying for them, this is often the hardest part of the State’s case. While the intent may be inferred from the circumstances of the particular case, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can raise defenses to negate this essential element of the crime. Making an honest mistake, error, being absent-minded, distracted, or confused are all defenses to a shoplifting allegation as they would negate the element of intent.

For example, mistakenly forgetting to pay for an item left inside your shopping cart because you had your hands full with an infant would be an excellent defense to any shoplifting allegation. In other situations, statements made to loss prevention agents can be suppressed because the statute only authorizes these agents to ask you for your name and address. Often statements made to these agents are made under extreme duress, and defendants feel that they are under “arrest” and must cooperate, or they will be further detained. Sadly, our prospective clients fail to realize that the loss prevention agents intend to call the police to issue a citation for larceny as soon as you finish your written statement or confession.

Receiving a Misdemeanor Summons is an Arrest

The police have the option to either take you down to the police station for booking or issue you a misdemeanor summons and give you a court hearing date. Many clients feel that because the police did not “book them” and take them in a police car or even put them in hand cuffs, this means that it was not “an arrest.” This is not accurate. If you have received a misdemeanor summons for larceny in the 6th degree, it is considered an arrest, and it will go on your FBI arrest record. So just because the police just gave you a “ticket” at the store and let you go, this does not mean that you were not arrested and that this offense is not something that you should take seriously. Shoplifting or larceny in the 6th degree is a crime of moral turpitude. It can have significant effects on your reputation and employment, so it is important to hire an experienced Connecticut criminal defense attorney to defend these allegations zealously.

Penalties

For first offenders, shoplifting or larceny in the 6th degree is a class C misdemeanor which upon a guilty plea or a conviction after trial could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $500. Any offender who has a prior record with two previous convictions for larceny in Connecticut or any other state could face a sentencing enhancement under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-40(e). If you have prior convictions for larceny the offense could be charged as a Class D felony as a persistent larceny offender, which exposes you to up to 5 years in jail.

Shoplifting Defense Lawyer Allan F. Friedman

While the offense of shoplifting is considered a minor criminal offense and may seem trivial, a “guilty” plea to larceny in the 6th degree will have severe consequences in the future. Anyone who has been charged under Connecticut General Statutes § 53a-125b is advised to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can evaluate your case, the allegations against you and advise you concerning the best defense strategy and course of action to obtain the most favorable result. We work on a flat fee basis, and our rates are very reasonable. Please contact Attorney Friedman at (203) 357-5555 to schedule your free initial consultation and case evaluation – we are available 24/7 - 365 days a year. Or you can contact us online for a prompt response.

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