Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, people are doing what they can to stay safe. In many places, including Connecticut, that means wearing a mask when out in public.
The problem is that enterprising thieves are using this to their advantage. In fact, one Connecticut couple went on an eight-day crime spree using masks and surgical gloves to evade recognition as they robbed convenience stores and gas stations.
No matter the circumstances, shoplifting is a crime that is harshly punished in Connecticut. Obscuring facial features and fingerprints doesn’t mean a person won’t be caught. When they are, here are some of the charges that can be faced.
What is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is also referred to in Connecticut as larceny. It involves taking something from a retail store that you do not intend on paying for as well as actively discarding security devices that are attached to items, putting items in different packaging in order to make it cheaper, or altering the price tag on an item.
Penalties for Shoplifting
Shoplifting in Connecticut can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the merchandise that was stolen. Under state law, these are the levels of larceny are broken out by first- through sixth-degree.
Penalties can range from a few months in jail to two decades behind bars, and fines can reach up to $15,000.
This is a Class B felony involving items stolen that were valued over $20,000. This charge carries with it a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine up to $15,000.
This is a Class C felony where the value of items stolen is between $10,000 and $20,000. It can result in a fine up to $10,000 as well as jail time up to 10 years.
A Class D felony, third-degree larceny is charged when the items stolen are valued between $2,000 and $10,000. It can result in a jail term of up to five years and a fine up to $5,000.
For this Class A misdemeanor, the value of the items stolen is between $1,000 and $2,000. It can result in up to one year in jail and fines up to $2,000.
Shoplifting items valued between $500 and $1,000 can result in a charge of this Class B misdemeanor. It can be punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Shoplifting items valued at $500 or less can result in the charge of this Class C misdemeanor. It can result in jail time up to three months and a fine of $500.
A conviction of shoplifting can also lead to being held legally responsible in a civil court case, should the rightful owner of the stolen property choose to pursue damages.
This could place the defendant in the position of having to pay the full value of the item that was stolen, paying the attorney’s fees and court costs of the store or owner of the merchandise, and/or covering financial losses that were experienced by the owner of the store.
Intent Matters When Defending Your Case
When arrested for shoplifting in Connecticut, police must have probable cause that the alleged perpetrator intended to steal the merchandise. It does occur sometimes that a person accidentally leaves a store without paying for an item, but most security personnel in stores are trained to look for common schemes associated with shoplifting.
Under Connecticut law, any person who intentionally hides an item that has not been purchased is presumed to have done so with the intent to take the item without paying for it.
Be aware of the things you’re carrying in the store, because even if you have your face covered to protect against COVID-19, it cannot protect you from shoplifting charges.
About the Author
Douglas D. Rudolph practices criminal defense law with two guiding principles in mind: that you are someone who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and that you are innocent until proven guilty. Those are beliefs that have served him well so far in New Haven and across Connecticut, where he has built a reputation as someone who truly cares about his clients and will fight aggressively for them. His work has earned him a number of prestigious awards, including landing on The National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 list two years in a row and being named to the Top 10 Under 40 by the National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys in 2018.