About Shoplifting Charges in Massachusetts
Experienced Massachusetts Shoplifting Theft Criminal Defense Attorneys
Shoplifting is one of the most commonly committed, and commonly prosecuted, crimes in the state of Massachusetts. A conviction for shoplifting usually entails minimal jail time and financial penalties, but it can leave a permanent mark on your record that may make it difficult, even years later, to find a job, obtain a loan, or rent housing—which is why it is important to have an experienced lawyer at your side who will work hard to defend your rights.
“Shoplifting” Charges Include More than Just Taking an Item
In Massachusetts, “shoplifting” can mean more than simply walking into a store and walking out with an unpaid piece of merchandise. Although simple theft is the most common form of shoplifting, this charge also applies if you’ve been caught tampering with price tags (for example if you switch the tags with an expensive and inexpensive shirt), attempting to conceal one piece of merchandise inside another piece of merchandise, or even taking a shopping cart off the store’s property.
One important consideration of Massachusetts’ shoplifting laws is that the concept of “reasonable cause” doesn’t apply the same way as it does with other forms of larceny. In order to arrest and detain a person for the crime of shoplifting, all a police officer needs to hear is the statement of the shop’s owner or employee that the shoplifting has taken place; the suspect doesn’t even need to be searched for stolen merchandise. Later, some form of proof (testimony from a store employee, footage from a surveillance camera, etc.) will be needed to make the charge stick.
Penalties for a Shoplifting Crimes in Massachusetts
The penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the merchandise stolen:
- If the total value is less than $250, a first-time offender is subject to a $250 fine, and a second-time offender a $500 fine.
- If the value of the goods stolen is more than $250, the penalties are more serious: up to 30 months in jail and a $1,000 fine, even for a first-time offender.
For large values of stolen item(s), the district attorney may choose to charge the suspect with grand larceny, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine, rather than with shoplifting. (The actress Lindsey Lohan stole a necklace valued at more $2,500 and was charged with felony crime instead of with shoplifting.)
Types of Shoplifting Crimes in Massachusetts
Our criminal defense attorneys have the experience to defend you against an array of shoplifting crimes including:
- Shoplifting by Asportation
- Shoplifting by Switching a Price Tag
- Shoplifting by Switching Containers
- Shoplifting by Concealing Merchandise
- Shoplifting by Ringing Up a False Price
- Shoplifting Over or Under $250 Dollars
- Larceny Over/Under $250 (Property Theft)
Free Consultation With Experienced Shoplifting Defense Lawyers
If you have been charged with shoplifting, you need an attorney at your side who knows the ins and outs of Massachusetts’ complicated larceny laws. If you’re a first-time offender, the experts at The Noonan Defense Firm may be able to have the charges dismissed entirely and erased from your permanent record, usually in exchange for a fine and a period of probation. More serious, or repeat, charges of shoplifting may be negotiable with the district attorney, since it’s very rare that shoplifting cases are brought all the way to a judge or jury.
No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call us to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 584-6955 and you will have taken your first step to find out how best to confront this important matter. You can also click here to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.