CONTANT LAW, P.C.

What Are The Penalties Associated With A Larceny Conviction?


There are many different possible punishments, depending on which type of larceny you are charged with. However, for a simple first-offense misdemeanor larceny (general property has a value under $1,200), the maximum punishment would be two years in the house of correction. For larceny of property having a value of greater than $1,200, the maximum penalty is up to five years in State Prison for a first offense. In reality, unless your past record is particularly bad or the facts of your case are heinous in nature, it is unlikely you would receive the maximum penalty. A more common sentence for someone with a no criminal record or a minor record would be some type of deferred adjudication (also known as a continuance without a finding or “CWOF”), probation or a suspended sentence.

What Kind Of Effects Can Prior Larceny Convictions Have On A Pending Larceny Case?

If you’ve been previously convicted of larceny, there are enhanced penalties for doing it again, which are also called a subsequent offenses. The particular statute or law for each type of larceny will spell out exactly what you may be facing for committing a second or subsequent offense.

Are There Civil Penalties Involved In Shoplifting Or Larceny Cases?

Yes. Certainly, anyone whom you steal from can sue you civilly to obtain the money or value of the property and for certain other expenses related to the civil lawsuit. However, Massachusetts also has a separate law concerning shoplifting.  This law allows the store to make civil demands upon shoplifter. These demands can be for certain penal amounts up to $1,000. This demand is penal in nature, meaning that it is meant as a punishment. The amount sought has no relation to whether the store got its property back and it has little to do with the value of the property actually taken.  Keep in mind that these are civil penalties which have no bearing on whether you are charged criminally or what would happen in a criminal case.  You can both be charged and receive a civil demand letter from the store.

How Can A Larceny Conviction Impact Someone’s Criminal Record?

A larceny conviction (or any other conviction) will affect your criminal record in the sense that it will be another charge or an entry on your criminal record. If you’re convicted, it will be taken into consideration should you be charged with committing any other crime and are brought before the court. Some examples of the effect a prior conviction can have are whether you should be held on bail; what conditions of release might be requested and/or ordered; if convicted again what type of sentence you might receive; and what type of probationary conditions you may be ordered to do if placed on probation. In most cases, a conviction will remain on your record for the rest of your life and could have a negative effect on you in the future, both in and out of court.

What Are Some Defense Strategies Used In Larceny Cases?

There are many different strategies we use in defending criminal cases. Which strategy we use will always depend on the particular facts and circumstance of each case. A few of those strategies can include:

  • Showing that you weren’t involved in the theft. Either you were not there at all or you just happened to be present with the person who committed the larceny and had no involvement.
  • You didn’t take any property. You may have been in the area, but there is not enough evidence to show that you were the one that took the property.
  • Another less common defense is that you reasonably believed the property or money stolen actually belonged to you. If a person justly believes that they’re owed this money or property, taking it cannot be considered larceny. For instance, if you owe me money and I take some money from your kitchen table to pay myself back, that can be a defense to larceny.

How Do You Determine Whether A Plea Offer Is Viable In A Larceny Case?

Like any other case, it’s important to review all of the facts of the case, including all of the admissible evidence that’s going used against you to be prior to making that decision. In many cases, after we review the police reports and other evidence, we are able to find issues with the prosecution’s ability to prove the case. Before you decide to accept a plea offer you really need to review all of the evidence with your attorney because oftentimes there’s just not enough to prove you guilty.

Are There Any Alternative Programs Available For Theft Charges In Massachusetts?

There are no programs specifically for theft charges in Massachusetts. However, for minor charges, the district attorney’s will sometimes offer their diversion program .This is a program run by the district attorney’s office and they have discretion as to whether it is something which they will offer to you.  There is also a program for military veterans called the Valor Act, which has its own rules and restrictions.  If accepted, these types of programs are  similar to probation. The major benefit is that if you complete this type of program you won’t be arraigned on the charges and they won’t ever appear on your criminal record.

Is It Mandatory To Hire An Attorney To Handle A Larceny Case?

It is never mandatory to hire an attorney. However, it is highly recommended because there are many nuances, rules and technical defenses to larceny charges that can be spotted by an experienced defense attorney who can then pursue those defenses on your behalf. There are many cases where the average person would not know that they actually have a good defense to the charges. It is very important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help guide you through the process so that you don’t admit to something that the prosecutor may never be able to prove in court.

For more information on Penalties For Larceny, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (617) 227-8383 today.

Michael A. Contant, Esq.

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