The Basics of Larceny in Connecticut Law

Larceny is a term which is often thrown around, but usually not well understood. Most people have at least a general understanding of what this means, but rarely know the technical definition under Connecticut law. Under Connecticut State law, “larceny” is the same as theft, and both of these terms refer to the willful taking of another person’s property for the benefit of the taker. The treatment of larceny in Connecticut is fairly complex, as our state has chosen to divide this behavior into many degrees of severity. Let’s explore the contours of larceny in detail.

Types of Larceny in CT

The concept of larceny in Connecticut law encompasses a wide variety of behaviors. Essentially, any instance involving the taking of property from another person will come under the definition of larceny. As our readers will know, theft can occur in all sorts of forms. When someone shoplifts a loaf of bread from a grocery store, this is theft; but, when an employee transfers money from a company account to a personal account without notifying his or her manager, this is also theft. These very dissimilar behaviors both fall under the definition of larceny.

To name a few, these behaviors will all fall under the definition of larceny in Connecticut law:

  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Obtaining property by way of false pretenses
  • Obtaining property by false promise
  • Acquiring property lost, mislaid or delivered by mistake
  • Defrauding the public community
  • Theft of services
  • Receiving stolen property
  • Shoplifting
  • Conversion of a motor vehicle
  • Obtaining property through fraudulent use of an automated teller machine
  • Library theft
  • Conversion of leased property
  • And a few other less common types of theft or fraud…

The Six Degrees of Larceny

Not only does larceny encompass a wide range of behaviors, there are also many degrees of severity of larceny in Connecticut. There are a total of six degrees of larceny. Expectedly, these different degrees of larceny correspond to varying levels of theft. Here are the levels of theft (in terms of value) for each of the six degrees of larceny:

  • 6th degree larceny occurs when someone obtains property valued at $500 or less;
  • 5th degree larceny occurs when someone obtains property of which the value exceeds $500;
  • 4th degree larceny occurs when someone obtains property of which the value exceeds $1,000;
  • 3rd degree larceny occurs when someone obtains property that consists of a motor vehicle valued at $10,000 or less, or property or service which exceeds $2,000, or any other property described in 53a-124;
  • 2nd degree larceny occurs when someone obtains property that consists of a motor vehicle of which the value exceeds $10,000, or property or services which exceed $10,000, or other property as defined in 53a-123;
  • 1st degree larceny occurs when someone obtains property or service, regardless of its nature or value, by means of extortion, or a motor vehicle valued at over $20,000, or property which exceed $20,000, or property by means of defrauding the public community and the value exceeds $2,000.

The statute actually gets complicated when it comes to the higher degrees of larceny because it defines certain terms. For instance, the term “motor vehicle” is actually defined specifically by the statute to include construction and farm equipment and also states the required intent and presumption of such intent under certain circumstances.

The Role of Intent in CT Law

One important thing to understand about larceny in Connecticut law is that larceny requires intent. If you make an honest mistake regarding someone else’s property, you cannot be found guilty of larceny. Intent can get a bit complex in some of its finer points, but the basics are fairly easy to understand. Consider a common example: you borrow equipment from your neighbor, but then accidentally forget to return it when you told your neighbor you would return it. You had every intention of returning the equipment, but simply found yourself busy with other things. In this situation, you couldn’t be convicted of larceny, because it was an honest mistake without the specific intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. Larceny requires a deliberate attempt to deprive someone else of property for the purpose of benefitting oneself.

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