When clients get a larceny charge or a robbery charge, it can be a shock. How will this charge change their life? What should they expect in court? Is one charge worse than the other? Attorney Michael Contant helps to demystify these complex terms.

Understanding what your criminal charge means is just the first step to understanding your situation. However, this can go a long way in setting up expectations for court proceedings. Although larceny and robbery are used interchangeably, larceny is actually a minor crime in comparison. It’s important to find an experienced attorney who can explain to you what to expect and the best strategy to fight.

Attorney Michael Contant wants each of his clients to feel better than when they left. He knows that when someone enters his office, they are incredibly stressed, confused, and scared. No matter what, his clients should know that he’ll fight for them, as well as help them understand what’s happening every step of the way.

What Is Larceny

The elements of larceny include: 

  1. Taking or carrying away property 
  2. Taking away property that belonged to someone else 
  3. Intention to deprive the person of the property permanently 

The property can include physical property, money, or things attached to real estate, land deeds, contracts, tangible or intangible data, telecommunication services, and domesticated animals. 

For example, someone is sitting on the subway, and their phone is in their pocket. Unbeknownst to them, someone else slips their hand into the pocket and steals the phone. The thief didn’t use force or violence to take the phone, so they could not be charged with robbery. 

In another example, if someone did not break into a laundromat, but they did steal money from the coin-operated laundry machines – that would be a larceny situation. 

What Is the Punishment For a Larceny Offense in Massachusetts?

If you receive a larceny charge in Massachusetts, there are different penalties based on the situation. This includes: 

  • The value of the property involved
  • The type of property stolen 
  • The type of victim, for example, elderly or disabled 

Penalties can range from fines to jail time, depending on the situation. Due to the fact that this type of crime doesn’t include force or violence, it is generally a misdemeanor. However, if the defendant takes property that is valued at more than $1200, the crime can turn into a felony. 

Some types of larceny are always a felony, regardless of the value of property. These include: 

  • Larceny from another person, for example, pickpocketing
  • Larceny from a building
  • Larceny of a motor vehicle

What Is Robbery

Robbery is often classified as a violent crime; however, personal injury or violence is not required for a crime to still be robbery. The threat of violence or force is enough to classify a crime as a robbery. Examples of robbery include: 

  • Robbing someone with a weapon or using violence as a threat 
  • Holding up an establishment with a weapon or threat of violence 

Armed Robbery is separate from ordinary robbery. If a defendant commits a crime with a dangerous weapon, this can be charged as an armed robbery. Armed robbery has higher penalties than ordinary robbery. However, both are considered serious crimes and can result in a high penalty. 

For example, if someone commits an unarmed robbery but the victim was over the age of 60 years old, they would likely have significant penalties. 

What Is the Punishment for a Robbery Offense in Massachusetts?

The penalties for a robbery offense vary depending on how the defendant commits the crime. For example, armed robbery with a disguise faces a mandatory minimum charge of five years in state prison.

Some examples of the sentences you can receive for robbery are as follows: 

  • Unarmed assault can have a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison. 
  • Robbery of someone 60 years or older after a second offense is a mandatory minimum of 2 years in state prison. 
  • Committing armed robbery with a dangerous weapon for a first offense is a mandatory minimum of 5 years in state prison. If this is your second offense, you could face a minimum sentence of 15 years in state prison. 

Is Shoplifting Different from Larceny

Shoplifting is a common form of larceny, characterized as the theft of store merchandise. This can include taking store items without paying, switching the tags on store items, switching the content of packages, and colluding with store members to intentionally charge you a different price. If the price of the items stolen is more than $1200, they will often charge this as larceny over (or grand larceny), which is a felony.

In Massachusetts, stores are able to make a civil demand for the value of the items you took. For example, if you stole an item that was less than $50, they can demand $50. Paying the civil demand has no impact on your criminal charge, and you could still face jail time. Hire a lawyer to get the best possible outcome for your larceny case.

How Your Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

It’s important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney for these types of cases because it can often feel like the odds are stacked against you. An attorney can sift through the evidence and find out if something seems amiss. Were there issues that led someone to misidentify you? Was evidence obtained illegally? Did police charge you with a robbery when they should have charged you for larceny? Have someone on your side who can ask the questions that need to be asked before it’s too late.