Shoplifting is perhaps the most common example of a theft crime in Hartford and the surrounding areas. However, many people do not understand how criminal laws define this activity and the potential penalties upon conviction. Shoplifting is just one example of a larceny offense under state law, and a conviction can be either a misdemeanor or a felony.
If you are facing allegations of stealing from a store, consult a Hartford shoplifting lawyer. The legal team at Ruane Attorneys can explain how the laws in the state handle these cases and what a conviction may mean for you. We work to uncover evidence demonstrating your innocence and present that evidence before judges and juries.
Shoplifting is an Example of Larceny in Hartford
Many states use specialized laws to deal with allegations of shoplifting. However, Connecticut is not one of these states. Instead, Connecticut General Statute § 53a-119 groups most examples of theft and related offenses into one statute. Specifically, subsection (9) describes the offense of shoplifting.
According to this law, it is illegal for any person to take possession of goods for sale in a store and take a step toward removing an item from the store without paying for it. A shoplifting charge may result from an attempt to take an item directly out of a store or even a supposed attempt to conceal that item with the intent to steal it. This means an arrest may occur even if the property never left the store.
Furthermore, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-199a gives store owners and employees the legal right to detain a person if they have reasonable grounds to believe they engaged in shoplifting. This detention can remain in place until the police arrive. A local attorney at our firm could further explain the state’s theft laws and how they impact an arrest for an alleged shoplifting incident.
The Severity of Shoplifting Charges
The severity of a shoplifting case depends mainly on the value of the items allegedly stolen. As the value of the items increases, so do the potential penalties.
Misdemeanor Charges for Stealing Merchandise
Most examples of shoplifting cases will fall under the category of misdemeanors. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-125b says that a theft involving items worth $500 or less is a class C misdemeanor. Here, convictions can bring a maximum jail sentence of three months or a fine of no more than $500.
Felony Shoplifting Charges
Theft cases become felonies when the value of the items involved rises to $2,000 or more. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-124 labels these offenses as class D felonies with a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Importantly, a prosecutor can add the value of individual items involved in a single incident to raise the severity of a charge. For example, if a person faces accusations of taking four $600 laptops from a store, the combined value of $2,400 will apply, making the charge a felony instead of a misdemeanor. A Hartford lawyer is prepared to present a defense against all versions of shoplifting allegations.
Reach Out to a Hartford Shoplifting Attorney Today
Shoplifting charges are serious matters that can profoundly impact your future. Even if a conviction does not result in jail time, it will still create a criminal record that could affect your housing options and employability. It is best to fight back at the earliest opportunity to protect your future.
A Hartford shoplifting lawyer could provide the help you need to succeed in your case. Ruane Attorneys is ready to explain the state’s laws and analyze the information the prosecutor intends to bring to court. Our team can then work to discredit a store employee’s recollection of events and explain that your actions did not indicate an intent to steal. Call us today to schedule your consultation.