Connecticut Shoplifting Lawyer
Some of the best Greenwich and Stamford criminal lawyers will tell you Shoplifting arrests in Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich continue to populate the criminal court dockets in Fairfield County. Digital video surveillance and webcams have become more affordable to small and larges storeowners. As a result, it is becoming much easier for the retail industry and local police departments to catch, apprehend and prosecute Connecticut shoplifters. The interesting thing about Shoplifting is that this crime is not always committed by people who cannot afford to buy the merchandise that they are accused of stealing. In fact, many wealthy people are regularly arrested for Connecticut Shoplifting. The reality is that sometimes a person can be battling depression, anxiety, or an obsessive-compulsive disorder which may cause them to steal or shoplift. Top Stamford Connecticut Shoplifting lawyers have often presented various mental health defenses to Shoplifting crimes, and have been successful in getting Shoplifting charges dismissed under these defense theories. So if you have been arrested for Larceny or Shoplifting in Stamford, Greenwich, Darien or Westport, you should contact a top theft lawyer to learn more about the nature of the charges being filed against you and to discuss how to cost-effectively fight your Connecticut Shoplifting charges.
What Constitutes Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is a form of the crime more commonly known as “Larceny” in Connecticut. Larceny is defined in Section 53a-119 of the Connecticut General Statutes. You can be arrested for Shoplifting if you are accused of intentionally taking possession of any goods or merchandise offered at a place of sale (ie., a retail store, flea market, tag sale) without intending on paying the purchase price for the goods. Depending on the value of the item taken, the shoplifting charge may either be a misdemeanor or a felony. Felonies carry with them the possibility of more severe punishment, including extended time in prison and substantial fines. As the chart below explains, there are 6 different degrees of Larceny, which can be broken down by value of the stolen merchandise:
|Larceny in the First Degree||– CGS 53a-122||– Over $20,000||– B FELONY|
|Larceny in the Second Degree||– CGS 53a-123||– Over $10,000||– C FELONY|
|Larceny in the Third Degree||– CGS 53a-124||– Over $2000||– D FELONY|
|Larceny in the Fourth Degree||– CGS 53a-125||– Over $1000||– A MISDEMEANOR|
|Larceny in the Fifth Degree||– CGS 53a-125a||– Over $500||– B MISDEMEANOR|
|Larceny in the Sixth Degree||– CGS 53a-125b||– $500 or under||– C MISDEMEANOR|
The penalties for the Connecticut Shoplifting crimes listed above depend on the value of the items that were allegedly stolen. First Degree Larceny is a Class B Felony with penalties ranging from 20 years in jail, probation, and a maximum $15,000 fine. Second Degree Larceny is a Class C Felony, and carries up to 10 years in prison, a maximum $10,000 fine, and probation. Larceny in the Third Degree is classified as a D Felony, carrying a 5 year maximum jail sentence and up to $5000 in fines. The most common Connecticut Shoplifting arrests are the misdemeanor Shoplifting crimes: Larceny in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Degrees, which carry jail sentences for time periods under a year, probation, and fines under $2000.
You should also know that in addition to any fines you may pay to the Connecticut criminal courts, you may also have to pay the store owner restitution in the amount of the value of the items stolen if they were not recovered in brand new condition. Plus, in addition to restitution for the stolen items, you may also be ordered to pay the store back for the administrative costs in apprehending and arresting you. This includes costs to the store for restocking the stolen merchandise, and preserving and processing the video and audio surveillance for the arresting police department. This evidence preservation process is costly to the store as they have to package all the evidence and deliver it to the police. As a result, top Stamford Shoplifting lawyers often see stores pass these costs and expenses through to the person arrested for Shoplifting in Stamford, Greenwich and Norwalk.
Intent and Connecticut Shoplifting Arrests
In order to be arrested for Shoplifting in Stamford, Greenwich, Norwalk, or Westport, the police must have probable cause that you intended to steal the merchandise at issue. Of course, there are very unusual scenarios when someone accidentally leaves a store with an item in their possession but fails to pay for it. For example, unbeknownst to you, sometimes your child will grab a piece of merchandise and stick it in your purse or shopping bag. Or sometimes you may be distracted by a cell phone call and walk out of a store without paying for an item in your possession. These are exceptional circumstances, however. Most security personnel at malls and big retail stores are trained in detecting common Shoplifting schemes, such as when you pay for a few cheap items, but secretly place expensive items in your purse, shopping bag or cart with the intent to steal those unpaid-for items. Connecticut law is clear in these circumstances: intent is presumed. Any person who intentionally conceals an unpurchased item will be presumed to have done so with the intent to take the item as his own without paying for it. In other words, placing an item under your clothing or in your purse and leaving with it will usually be enough to get you arrested for Shoplifting in Stamford, Greenwich or Norwalk Connecticut. Reach out to a lawyer who has experienced handling shoplifting cases.
What Do You Do If You Are Accused of Shoplifting?
A majority of Shoplifting arrests in Connecticut usually follow the same script: store security guards will observe a suspect attempting to steal items from their store. These guards—who are not police officers—will approach and confront the suspect. After interviewing the suspect, if the guards believe a crime has been committed, then they will attempt to detain the suspect until police arrive. Connecticut General Statute 53a-119a allows security guards or store clerks to question individuals if they have a reasonable suspicion that a Shoplifting crime has been attempted. Remember, you are never required to provide any information about the accusations to any security guard or police officer. You always have the right to remain silent. And most importantly, you are entitled to call a top Connecticut Shoplifting criminal lawyer before speaking to a police officer or security guard. However, if the police have probable cause, then they will in fact arrest you, transport you to police headquarters, book and process you, set a bond, and give you a court date.
Can I Use the Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Diversionary Program to Get My Shoplifting Arrest Dismissed?
Yes, under certain circumstances. The Pre-Trial Accelerated Rehabilitation Diversionary Program in Connecticut (the “AR Program”) allows individuals the opportunity to have a “second chance” if they are arrested for certain misdemeanor and felony charges. Almost all Shoplifting arrests are eligible for the AR Program, so long as you have not applied for the AR Program in the 10 years prior to your new arrest, and so long as you did not use the AR Program in the past for a felony charge. If the Connecticut Superior Court in Norwalk, Bridgeport or Stamford grants your AR application, then at the completion of the program, the court will dismiss your Connecticut Shoplifting arrest in its entirety and will wipe the charges off your criminal record. However, getting the Connecticut Accelerated Rehabilitation program is not automatic. The victims of your Connecticut Shoplifting arrest have the right to come to court and object. And the prosecutors can also ask the Criminal Court judge to deny your application. It is therefore crucial that you submit the strongest application possible to the court, including letters from any medical experts who may be able to explain why you shoplifted. Courts can be very sympathetic to people suffering from mental illness and depression. Therefore you should contact a top Stamford Shoplifting criminal attorney to discuss the best strategy for applying for the Accelerated Rehabilitation program.
Be Careful of Selling Goods Online for A Friend Who May Have Shoplifted Them
Selling goods and merchandise online can be a double-edged sword. While the internet facilitates the sale of thousands of products through sites like eBay and Amazon, it also increases the risks of engaging in illegal activity. Connecticut General Statute § 53a-119 makes it a crime for any person to receive, retain or dispose of stolen property, knowing that it has been stolen or believing that it has probably been stolen. Therefore you should always be cautious when a friend or employee at work asks you to sell something on their behalf—either online or offline. Use your common sense in assessing the risks and benefits. For example, if someone asks you to sell a couple of video game consoles that they happened to find in their home, you should think twice before agreeing to do so.
Fighting Your Connecticut Shoplifting Charges
There are many ways to fight a Connecticut Shoplifting arrest. Prior to deciding on your defense strategy, your top Stamford criminal lawyer will need to review the police reports, witness statements, and surveillance recordings in your criminal case file. You may also need to hire a private investigator to take additional witness statements that the police may have overlooked or failed to follow up on. Another critical element in any Connecticut Shoplifting arrest is appraising the value of the stolen goods and merchandise. Many Shoplifting cases are reduced or dismissed after the defense lawyers figure out that the merchandise at issue is not worth as much as the police initially thought, which can often make the difference between a Connecticut felony shoplifting arrest and a misdemeanor Shoplifting arrest. Once all the reports have been reviewed by you and your Stamford Shoplifting lawyer, and once the value of the stolen goods has been determined, you can work with your Stamford criminal lawyer to figure out the best strategy to fight your Connecticut Shoplifting arrest. These options include going to trial, applying for a diversionary program, or having your attorney aggressively advocate to the court and prosecution to drop your Connecticut Shoplifting arrest. Whichever path you choose, be sure to consider and discuss each option carefully with your attorney.
Civil Consequences in Shoplifting Cases
Finally, as mentioned above, one additional headache that comes hand in hand with being accused of and arrested for Shoplifting in Stamford, Norwalk and Darien is receiving a money demand or civil lawsuit from the victim business for costs incurred by the business for assisting the police with the prosecution of your case. This is an administrative cost incurred by the store for copying the video recordings and providing it to the police. In addition, the store owners may attempt to bring a civil lawsuit against you for the retail value of the merchandise as well as punitive damages of up to $300. The store is also entitled to recoup the cost of bringing the lawsuit and the attorney fees spent on the case. A demand notice or lawsuit can often be negotiated down by your Connecticut criminal attorney so if you receive such a notice, contact a top Stamford criminal lawyer to discuss your options.
Contact an Experienced Shoplifting Attorney At Mark Sherman Law Today
Misdemeanor and Felony Shoplifting / Larceny arrests in Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich Connecticut can carry severe consequences. So if you have been arrested for Shoplifting in Stamford, Wilton, New Canaan, Westport or Greenwich, contact one of the experienced Connecticut shoplifting lawyers at Mark Sherman Law Today. Our “two-attorney” review guarantee of your file ensures that your case will get a thorough and comprehensive review of all the police documents, arrest reports and surveillance videos. Our priority is results. We will sit with you and develop the most cost-effective and strategic defense we can under the circumstances of your individual case. So if you have been arrested for 53a-119 Shoplifting, get in from of your arrest by contacting a Stamford or Greenwich criminal attorney today. The attorneys at Mark Sherman Law are available 24/7 to take your call.