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CT defense lawyerWhen a person is on another person’s property without permission, it is generally in the service of committing a crime, like burglary. This is not always true - but even when it is not, you may still be on the proverbial hook for the crime of criminal trespass. It is important that you understand your or your child’s entry onto private land may still rise to the level of criminality, and if it does, to react accordingly.

Three Degrees of Trespass

There are three degrees of criminal trespass under Connecticut law, and all hinge on the issue of intent. If you specifically ignore an explicit communication advising you that you are trespassing (or will be if you enter the land), but you enter or refuse to leave regardless of that fact, you will be charged with first-degree criminal trespass, which is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail, plus a fine of up to $2,000 and court costs. Second-degree trespass does not involve any kind of explicit communication and is a class B misdemeanor, and third-degree trespass deals only with those caught entering onto private land to hunt or fish, which is a class C misdemeanor.

It can be easy to confuse criminal trespass with burglary, as both require entry onto someone else’s land without express permission. However, in order to be charged with burglary, you must not only enter onto the land; you must enter into a “building” or a “dwelling” with the specific intent to commit a crime. Criminal trespass does not require the intent to commit a crime - only the intent to remain on the land. The distinction is fine, but it is quite important, given that the minimum sentence for burglary is equivalent to the maximum sentence for criminal trespass.

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CT defense lawyerConnecticut has a very wide-ranging larceny statute, that encompasses quite a few different theft crimes, including retail theft (shoplifting) and embezzlement. Because the statute is so broad, it can seem a bit overwhelming to those charged with a larceny crime, but in truth, the law is usually more simple than it appears. If you have been charged with larceny, understanding the specifics of the law and what you might be facing can help demystify the process.

The Umbrella Is Wide

Connecticut law defines larceny as having the intent to either permanently deprive another person of property, or to appropriate it for themselves, and physically taking or withholding that property from its rightful owner. While other states specifically define different theft crimes like extortion or embezzlement under their own statutes, Connecticut classifies them all as theft crimes, under the wide umbrella of larceny. In other words, the law defines each theft crime as being a type of larceny, rather than as specific and individual crimes.

The key part of a larceny charge is intent - if the state cannot prove that you intended to permanently retain another person’s property, they have not proven all the elements of their case, and it is not always easy to illustrate intent one way or the other. This is a very common defense that is offered in cases that involve theft from a private person or entity; a defendant can argue that they merely borrowed the property and intended to return it.

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CT defense lawyerVery often, shoplifting gets painted as a crime perpetrated by juveniles or others who do it to test limits. However, sometimes there are mental health-related reasons why a person might shoplift, or sometimes, the entire episode may genuinely be a mistake or a misunderstanding. If you have been charged with shoplifting, speaking to a knowledgeable attorney may help in the whole matter being resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

Serious Consequences

The penalties for shoplifting tend to vary with the value of the items stolen. If you steal items whose total adds up to $500 or less, you will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, where the penalty is anywhere up to 1 year in jail, plus fines and costs. Comparatively, if you steal items worth over $20,000, you are guilty of a Class B felony, which may be punishable with up to 20 years in jail, plus a $15,000 fine. Some charges, especially those which carry misdemeanor sentences, may be plea-bargained or you may be granted the right to complete a pretrial diversion program, especially if this is a first offense. However, those whose thefts are expensive enough to be charged as felonies may face serious time.

In addition to any consequences imposed by the state, Connecticut law also allows the business where the shoplifting took place to seek restitution and other costs from you in a civil proceeding. Businesses are allowed to seek reasonable recompense from shoplifters, such as covering the costs of copying tapes and other evidence for trial, as well as replenishing any stock or any costs incurred in security measures (even the costs of arresting you).

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CT defense lawyerIn Connecticut, larceny, shoplifting, and standard theft are all charged as facets of the same crime, which can confuse and frighten some people. Punishment for these types of offenses usually has to do with the value of the item taken, as well as whether or not any force was used in taking it. Nonetheless, it can still be very intimidating to be accused of any theft crime, and having a Stamford theft lawyer on your side can make it easier to get through the process.

Theft Defined

Connecticut law groups multiple different theft-related crimes under the same statute, up to and including larceny, embezzlement, obtaining property by false pretenses, theft of services (for example, not paying your restaurant bill), shoplifting, conversion, and several others. While this may seem strange, the overarching rationale is that in most cases it matters very little what the crime is called, as long as the relevant criteria have been fulfilled - namely, that property is wrongfully taken, held, or withheld from its owner with the intent that the owner be permanently deprived.

It is within the same line of reasoning that the sentence for most theft crimes has to do with the monetary value of the item stolen. While it can seem unfair or inequitable that sentimental or personal value of a stolen item is not taken into account, it would be far too subjective to do that in court (in other words, an item will have different sentimental value to different people, making a just sentence too hard to create). There are six degrees of larceny charges in Connecticut, ranging from larceny in the sixth degree (punishable by a small fine and up to three months’ imprisonment) to first degree larceny, which is a Class B felony, punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years, and a fine of up to $15,000.

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Posted on in Theft and Property Crimes

CT defense lawyerIn July 2018, Stamford police received reports of two stolen cars in the Ridges neighborhood (the calls were two hours apart). Police apprehended the suspect driving the second car and charged him with reckless driving, driving without a license, and first-degree larceny, among other offenses.

What Is Larceny?

Larceny is a type of property crime. Under Connecticut law, a person commits larceny when “he wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds” property from its owner. The accused must have “intent to deprive another of property or to appropriate the same to himself or a third person.”

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