What is Larceny by Stealing?
Larceny is a legal term for “stealing” and is one of the most common crimes committed in Massachusetts, as well as in every other state. Crimes of larceny by stealing involve the theft or taking of property. In most cases involving property theft, the accused will be charged with some form of larceny.
Under the law, the term “property” is very broad and applies to chattel (movable items and personal property such as furniture, paintings, household items — possessions of value), as well as to pets, and even computer data. “Property” also includes money, checks, bonds, and promissory notes.
Petit Larceny vs Grand Larceny
Massachusetts law distinguishes between two kinds of larceny by stealing:
- Petit Larceny: If the value of stolen items is less than $250 you are likely to be charged with a misdemeanor, petit larceny, which is punishable by up to a year in jail.
- Grand Larceny: If the value of stolen items is over $250 worth of property or money, you can be charged with a felony, grand larceny, which is punishable by up to five years in jail.
Proving Your Guilt: The Prosecutor’s Job
The job of a prosecutor is to prepare a case against you to prove you are guilty of a crime. You might think that a good defense to a charge of larceny by stealing is that you were simply “borrowing” the item in question. This is not a strategy that is always the best approach in defending against a district attorney, who needs only to establish three things to get a conviction:
- That you took the money or goods in question and carried them away (it doesn’t matter if you traveled a short or a long distance);
- That the property was in fact owned or in the possession of another person; and
- That you intended to keep the stolen property. (It also doesn’t help to claim, after you’ve been arrested, that you intended to make some kind of restitution at a later date.)
Defending You Aggressively: Our Job
Because larceny by stealing is a relatively minor crime, it’s extremely rare for these kinds of cases to go all the way to a judge or jury. However, a conviction for larceny by stealing is no small thing; not only does it expose you to jail time and fines, but it also leaves a mark on your permanent record that could make it difficult later on to find a job or obtain a loan.
If you’ve been accused of larceny by stealing, our criminal defense attorneys may be able to have the charges dismissed outright, or, in many cases, plead down the felony or misdemeanor to something less serious.
Learn more about our practice areas, the charges you are facing, and how we can help you:
- Petit Larceny vs Grand Larceny Charges
- Larceny by Stealing From a Person
- Larceny by Stealing in a Building
- Larceny by Check (Bad Checks, Check Fraud)
- Larceny of a Motor Vehicle
- Buying or Receiving Stolen Goods (Trafficking Stolen Goods)
- Shoplifting Charges