Not all crimes are created equally, but they can all potentially result in serious consequences for an offender, including fines, probation, jail time, and a criminal record. Shoplifting is one of those crimes that people often view as a minor, non-violent criminal offense. Stealing a beer from a convenience store may not be thought of on the same level as robbery, but it can in Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Shoplifting Laws
Before we get into the potential consequences of shoplifting, let’s define what it means. Shoplifting in Massachusetts includes:
- Taking possession of merchandise without paying for it
- Concealing merchandise in a retail establishment
- Altering or changing price tags
- Moving merchandise into different containers
However it must be in order to deprive the merchant of the value of the merchandise. In Massachusetts, a merchant can detain a suspected shoplifter in a reasonable manner, for a reasonable amount of time, and law enforcement can arrest a suspected shoplifter without a warrant if they have probable cause.
Massachusetts Shoplifting Criminal Penalties
- If you shoplift goods valued at less than $100 with no prior offenses, you face a fine of up to $250.
- If you shoplift goods up to $100 with one prior offense, you face a fine between $100 and $500.
- If you shoplift goods up to $100 with two or more prior offenses, you face up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500.
- If you shoplift goods valued at $100 or over, you face up to 2 ½ years in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.
In addition to criminal penalties, a merchant can sue a shoplifter in civil court for damages between $50 and $500, plus actual damages.
Luckily, Massachusetts offers pretrial diversion programs to certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes. Diversion generally requires you to make restitution and to complete other requirements like community service or probation. The criminal charges are dropped when the program requirements are fulfilled. If diversion is not an option, you may be able to arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor for lesser charges or lighter sentencing in return for a guilty plea.
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Massachusetts, please contact our Boston criminal defense lawyer at Brad Bailey Law. Call (617) 500-0252 or contact us online today to learn more about your available defenses.