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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

9.1-7  Larceny by Obtaining Property by False Pretenses -- 53a-119 (2) and 53a-122 through 53a-125b

Revised to April 23, 2010

Note:  The degree of the larceny is determined by the value of the property stolen.  See 53a-122 (first degree); 53a-123 (second degree); 53a-124 (third degree); 53a-125 (fourth degree); 53a-125a (fifth degree); 53a-125b (sixth degree). The dollar amounts for the degrees of larceny were increased as of October 1, 2009.  See the table in Introduction to Larceny for the values in effect prior to that date.

The defendant is charged [in count __] with larceny by obtaining property by false pretenses in the (first / second / third / fourth / fifth / sixth) degree.  The statute defining this offense reads in pertinent part as follows: 

a person obtains property by false pretenses when, by any false token, pretense or device, (he/she) obtains from another any property, with intent to defraud (him/her) or any other person.

For you to find the defendant guilty of this charge, the state must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

Element 1 - Obtained property of another
The first element is that the defendant obtained property from the property owner. 

"Obtaining" property includes, but is not limited to, bringing about the transfer of a legal interest in the property from the owner to the defendant or to a third person.  If the legal title or ownership of the property or some legal interest in the property is transferred, such a transfer would constitute "obtaining" under the statute.  The property does not need to be physically obtained.  If the owner delivered the property intending to transfer legal ownership or some legal interest in the property, sufficient transfer would have occurred.

"Property" includes any (money / personal property / real property / thing in action / evidence of debt or contract / article of value of any kind).  [Commodities of a public utility, such as gas, electricity, steam and water also constitute property.]

"Owner" means not only the true or lawful owner, but any person who has a superior right to that of the defendant.  

Element 2 - By false pretenses or false token or device
The second element is that the defendant obtained the property by means of (false pretenses / a false token or device).  <Insert appropriate definition:>

  • "False token or device" means a tangible object or symbol, commonly accepted by the public for what it purports to represent, but which had been falsified or counterfeited.  False measures, weights, or scales, counterfeit money or stamps, marked cards or loaded dice would be examples of false tokens or devices.  <Describe alleged false token or device.>  A mere verbal misrepresentation would not constitute a false token or device.

  • "False pretense" means a false representation of fact.  Since nothing to happen in the future can properly be referred to as a fact, the representation must relate to past or present circumstances and not to future events.  A representation may be made in writing, verbally, or even by actions or conduct.  It is an express or implied assertion of a fact upon which it is expected that others will rely.  Usually a representation takes the form of a statement of fact, oral or written, but it may involve conduct only.  Because a false pretense refers to past or existing facts, a mere promise to do something in the future is not a false pretense.  Furthermore, a mere statement of opinion, as distinguished from a statement of fact, is not a false pretense.  Puffing, exaggeration, praise of an article for the purpose of selling it, or giving an opinion as to the value or worth of property are not ordinarily a sufficient basis for a charge of false representation.  Specific statements regarding the quantity, weight, manufacture or composition of an article are statements of fact sufficient to support such a charge.

The (false pretense / false token or device) must be the means by which the defendant obtains the property.  The owner must rely upon it in parting with (his/her) property.  Obviously, if the owner knew the pretense or token was false, (he/she) would not have relied upon it.  On the other hand, the (false pretense / false token or device) need not be the sole cause inducing the owner's action.  As long as (his/her) reliance on the false representation was a substantial factor in causing the owner to deliver the property to another, this element will be satisfied, even though other inducements may also have been involved. 

Element 3 - Intent to defraud
The third element is that the defendant intended to defraud <insert name of person>.  In other words, (he/she) must have intended to deceive, and by this deceit, to obtain the property.  <See Intent to Defraud, Instruction 2.3-6.>

The defendant must have fully realized and known that the (representation that (he/she) made / token or device (he/she) used) was untrue.  No matter how careless a person may have been in failing to check the accuracy of (his/her) statements, negligence does not constitute a fraudulent intention.  In addition, the pretense or representation must be actually false.  Even if a person believes that (he/she) is lying, if the (statement / token / device) were not actually false, there would be no deception. 

Element 4 - Value of the property1
The fourth element is that the property had a value that <insert as appropriate:>

First degree:  exceeded $20,000.
Second degree:  exceeded $10,000.
Third degree:  exceeded $2,000.
Fourth degree:  exceeded $1,000.
Fifth degree:  exceeded $500.
Sixth degree:  did not exceed $500.

<See Larceny, Instruction 9.1-1, for a full explanation of this element.>

Conclusion

In summary, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that 1) the defendant wrongfully obtained the property of another, 2) (he/she) obtained the property by (false pretenses / a false token or device), 3) (he/she) knew that the (pretenses were false / token or device was false), and 4) the value of the property obtained was <insert value according to degree charged>.

If you unanimously find that the state has proved beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of the crime of larceny by obtaining property by false pretenses, then you shall find the defendant guilty.  On the other hand, if you unanimously find that the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the elements, you shall then find the defendant not guilty.
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1 If the victim is over the age of sixty years, blind or physically disabled, it is second degree larceny regardless of the value of the property.  General Statutes 53a-123 (a) (5).  See Larceny of an Elderly, Blind, or Physically Disabled Person, Instruction 9.1-9.

Commentary

To be found guilty of larceny by false pretenses, a person "must knowingly make a false representation with the intent to defraud, and that false representation must induce action that effectively causes the accused to receive something of value without compensation."  State v. Rochette, 25 Conn. App. 298, 306, cert. denied, 220 Conn. 912 (1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 1045, 112 S.Ct. 905, 116 L.Ed.2d 806 (1992); see also State v. Carcare, 75 Conn. App. 756, 775-78 (2003) (obtaining property by the use of a stolen credit card).
 


 

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