Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Defending Against Massachusetts Shoplifting Charges

While many people view shoplifting as a minor type of crime, the crime can result in a person facing some significant penalties, including fines, jail time, probate, and a criminal record that greatly affects career and educational goals. For this reason, people who are charged with shoplifting often find it critical to obtain the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Laws in Massachusetts About Shoplifting

It is important to understand what shoplifting in the state of Massachusetts includes. By law, the offense is comprised of several acts including altering or changing price tags, concealing merchandise in a retail establishment, moving merchandise into different containers, and taking possession of merchandise without paying.

The exact penalties that a person faces in relationship to shoplifting depend on the value of the goods that were stolen. If a person shoplifts items that are valued at less than $100, he or she can end up facing fines of up to $250. If a person shoplifts goods up to $100 with one previous offense, the individual can end up facing a fine of up to $500. If a person shoplifts goods up to $100 with two or more previous offenses, the individual can end up facing two years of prison and a fine of up to $500. If you shoplift goods valued at $100 or over, you can end up facing two and a half years in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. In addition to these penalties, a store merchant can also sue a shoplifter for damages of up to $500.

Defenses to Shoplifting Charges

The state of Massachusetts offers pretrial diversion programs to individuals who are charged with either first time or low level offenses. The terms of diversion programs often require a person to make restitution and complete other requirements, including community service or probation. Creating a strong defense to a charge of shoplifting often requires a person to weaken the prosecution’s case by weakening the evidence being used to support the charge.

A large number of successful shoplifting defenses involve proving that a person lacked the intent to shoplift, which means that the individual forgot to pay or mistakenly took an item and immediately returned it. Prosecution will often use video footage to establish that an offense occurred, which means that it is sometimes possible to argue mistaken identity. If prosecution decides to use witness testimony, it can be argued that the witnesses being used are either biased or unreliable.

It is important to remember that a defense is stronger the sooner a person is able to initiate the defense. This is why after being charged with shoplifting, you should immediately contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands your case and will work to have matters dismissed, your sentence reduced, or your record expunged.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one is charged with shoplifting in Massachusetts, speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law today to schedule an initial free consultation.