In Massachusetts, theft is referred to as larceny by statute, and larceny falls under a larger category of crimes known as “property crimes,” which includes not only larceny but also crimes such as burglary and auto theft. According to the Massachusetts state Office of Grants and Research, there were 144,450 property crime offenses committed statewide in 2012. This figure represent a 36% decline from 1988, and although property crimes are declining, Massachusetts still has 2,173 property crime offenses per 100,000 people.
Despite the current property crime rate in Massachusetts, it is obvious that the harsh punishments imposed on offenders that commit larceny or grand larceny are working, but what is the difference between larceny and grand larceny from a legal perspective?
Larceny Laws in Boston, MA
Mass.Gen.Laws ch.266§30 defines the crime of larceny as stealing or taking the property of another. However, the statute specifically makes a distinction between the punishments imposed on an offender based on the value of the property stolen or whether or not the property stolen was a firearm.
The term “grand larceny” is simply used to differentiate larceny, which is considered a misdemeanor offense, from felony larceny, but the term itself never actually appears within the Massachusetts larceny statute. However, the sentences imposed on an offender for grand larceny are very harsh when compared to its misdemeanor counterpart.
An offender commits the crime of larceny, which is also referred to as petty larceny, when they steal property or take property without the consent of the owner that is valued at less than $250. Larceny is considered a misdemeanor offense under Massachusetts law, and it carries with it a maximum sentence of one year in jail or a fine of up to $300.
The crime of grand larceny can be defined as the theft of property valued at $250 or more. Grand larceny is considered a felony offense, but the possible sentences imposed on an offender convicted of grand larceny can vary greatly. The maximum sentence an offender could face is up to five years in prison, but other possible sentences include up to two years in the county jail and fines of up to $25,000.
Although shoplifting is a form of theft, it is does not carry the same punishments as larceny. Mass.Gen.Laws ch.266§30A gives a very broad definition of various forms of shoplifting, the most common of which would be the removal of merchandise from a store without paying for it. Like larceny, the sentences imposed on an individual convicted of shoplifting vary based on the value of the property stolen.
If the property stolen from a merchant was valued at less than $100, the offender could receive the following sentences:
- First offense: a fine of up to $250
- Second offense: a fine of $100 to $500
- Third offense: a fine of up to $500, up to two years in jail, or both
When the value of the good stolen exceeds $100, shoplifting becomes a more serious crime that carries with it a maximum prison sentence of two and a half years in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The prosecutor also has the option of charging the offender with a felony or a misdemeanor offense, depending on the value of the stolen item and the criminal record of the offender.
Regardless the circumstances, being charged with any form of theft is a serious crime that should not be taken lightly. Moreover, you should always hire a criminal lawyer in Boston, MA to help resolve the matter and minimize the amount of personal damage you incur both presently and in the future as a result of being accused of any theft related crime.