What is Larceny?

Massachusetts follows the common law definition. Larceny is the taking and carrying away the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive them of it. It basically means that you are taking stuff with no intention of ever giving it back. Larceny is also commonly referred to as theft.

What are the different types of larceny cases that Contant Law handles?

There is a wide range of larceny types and we have provided criminal defense legal services for many different types of larceny cases. Some of the common forms of larceny or theft cases include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Larceny of property valued both over and under $1,200
  • Larceny from the person
  • Larceny by false pretenses/fraud
  • Larceny by check
  • Larceny of a motor vehicle
  • Unarmed robbery
  • Armed robbery
Can someone be charged if they are accompanying the person committing theft or larceny?

Many times, people are charged for being with someone who commits larceny. However, unless you are actually working together with that person in some way to commit the larceny, you should not be convicted. A common example of working together would be where one person acts as a lookout while the other steals the property.

However, simply being present while someone else commits a crime, is never enough for a conviction. This is a defense that we have used many times. Of course, whether it is successful is always going to depend on the specific facts of each case. For instance, if you are acting as a lookout, even though you are not actively involved in the theft itself, you would be a co-conspirator and charged as well. But if you are just there and your friend decides to steal something without your involvement, then the charges should not stand. Even if you know that your friend is going to commit the crime – as long as you do not participate – you should not be convicted. Keep in mind that you are under no duty to stop your friend, but you cannot help them either.

What does the prosecution need to prove in a larceny case?

The prosecutor will have to present evidence that you did, in fact, commit the particular type of larceny. In a general sense, that means that you took away the property of someone else with the intent to not give it back to them. They need to show each and every one of those things in order to find you guilty. So, for instance, if you took someone’s property and you only intended to borrow it and the evidence can show that, then it would not be larceny. It should also be noted that the property does not have to belong to the person you took it from. If you take it from someone else, who is simply holding onto it for another person, even taking it from that person would still be larceny. However, since there are many types of larceny, each with their own nuances and elements, the prosecutor may have to prove certain additional facts to prove their case.

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 are 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 were not 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 but had no involvement.
  • You did not 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 are 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 is important to review all the facts of the case, including all of the admissible evidence that is going used against you to be prior to making that decision. In many cases, after we review the police reports and other evidence, we can 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 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 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 will not be arraigned on the charges and they will not 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 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 do not admit to something that the prosecutor may never be able to prove in court.

We’re here to answer your questions and help you throughout the process

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10 Cedar Street, Suite 23
Woburn, MA 01801
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