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Shoplifting Charges

Boston Shoplifting Attorney / Massachusetts Shoplifting Charges Lawyer

Shoplifting is a crime with potentially serious penalties. A conviction for shoplifting can come with jail time as well as a permanent entry on your criminal background. In addition to criminal penalties, you can be sued by the store in civil court.

Without proper representation, a shoplifting charge can haunt you for several years. Under pressure and without appropriate guidance, people sometimes plead guilty at arraignment in exchange for a fine. Even if you are able to avoid jail time, a guilty plea can impact your employment, housing options, school, and ability to carry a firearm.

Massachusetts Shoplifting Attorney

Shoplifting in Massachusetts consists of any of the following:
-taking possession of merchandise without paying for it;
-concealing merchandise in a retail establishment;
-altering or changing price tags; or
-moving merchandise into different containers (i.e. a high price item into a low price item’s box)

Store Security (or Loss Prevention Officers) are legally allowed to detain you if they suspect you of shoplifting. The police can either arrest you on the spot, or summons you to court. A summons is a letter sent from the court instructing you to appear at a certain time and date. Be sure to arrive promptly, and if possible, with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A high-quality Boston defense attorney may be able to resolve shoplifting charges without an entry on your record – especially if you are summonsed for a clerk magistrate hearing.

Penalties for Shoplifting in Boston, Massachusetts

Maximum penalties (in addition to a criminal record) include the following:

Shoplifting under $100: Fine of $250. No jail time.
-Second Offense: Fine of $500. No jail time.
-Third or Subsequent Offense: 2 years in jail & $500 fine.

Shoplifting over $100: 2½ years in jail & $1,000 fine.

Occasionally the police will charge a suspected shoplifter with Larceny instead of Shoplifting. Larceny under $250 is a misdemeanor with a potential sentence of one year in jail. A conviction for Larceny over $250, a felony, carries a maximum 5-year state prison sentence and a fine of up to $25,000.

Civil Penalties:
Often after a shoplifting accusation, a person will receive a civil demand letter. If you do not pay, the store can sue you in civil court for the actual loss, plus an additional $50-500. Stores do not generally file suit, so you should consult with an attorney before taking any action.

If you have been charged with shoplifting in Massachusetts, you should consult with an experience criminal defense attorney. After reading the police report, investigating the circumstances, and speaking with you, we will develop a defense strategy to minimize the impact on your future.

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