Theft and Larceny

In the State of Rhode Island theft and larceny charges cover a wide range of offenses and can be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor.  According to Rhode Island General Law § 11-41-1 – Theft, Embezzlement, False Pretenses, and Misappropriation – the stealing, taking, or possessing of ANY property of value that does not belong to you or was not rightfully obtained, is deemed larceny.

There are a number of factors which determine whether you will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.  Chief among these factors is the value of the allegedly stolen goods.  

  • If the value of the property stolen, embezzled, misappropriated, or obtained by other fraudulent or criminal means, exceeds Five Hundred Dollars ($500), OR is a firearm, regardless of value, then the defendant faces up to Ten (10) years in prison, and/or a fine not to exceed Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000).
  • If the value of the property is less than Five hundred Dollars ($500), then the defendant faces up to One (1) year in prison and/or a fine not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500).

It is also important to know that Rhode Island imposes heightened penalties if the victim of the alleged larceny is over the age of Sixty-Five.  Felony larceny of a senior citizen will result in a minimum Two (2) years in prison with a maximum of Fifteen (15) years.  Similarly, misdemeanor larceny of a senior citizen results in a minimum of One (1) year in prison with a maximum of Five (5) years.

             Also covered under the Larceny statutes are the charges of:

Receiving Stolen Goods

Rhode Island General Law § 11-41-2 – states that any person who fraudulently receives stolen goods or property is guilty of larceny even if the person who initially stole the goods was not charged or convicted for the theft.

The next sentence of this statute is very important – The possession of stolen goods shall itself be evidence of knowledge that the goods were stolen, unless the defendant can show he paid adequate consideration for the goods.  

In other words, if you are caught with stolen property, the criminal justice system will assume that you knew the property was stolen unless YOU can prove otherwise.  In effect, the burden is upon you to prove your innocence.


Rhode Island General Law § 11-41-20 – is the relevant statute if you have been arrested and charged with shoplifting.  

A person is guilty of shoplifting if he or she takes away retail property from a store with the intent to deprive the store owner of all or part of the value of the merchandise.

Altering, transferring, or removing sales tags can also result in a charge of shoplifting.  

             Penalties for Shoplifting:

In Rhode Island, shoplifting is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine of not less than Fifty Dollars ($50) and not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500) and up to One (1) year in prison, or both.

However, any person who has previously been convicted of shoplifting and is caught in a second offense shoplifting goods worth in excess of One Hundred Dollars ($100) is guilty of a felony.  The punishment for felony shoplifting includes a fine of up to Five Thousand Dollars ($5000) and/or imprisonment up to Five (5) years.

In addition, Rhode Island General Law §11-41-20.1 has a provision which states that any person charged with shoplifting who used some implement or equipment to conceal the goods may be charged with a felony.