SHOPLIFTING AND RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY

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Hinman Law Blog

Shoplifting/Receiving Stolen Property

Shoplifting

Shoplifting is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Ch. 266, Sec. 30A, and is defined as taking possession, carrying away, or transferring any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, without paying the merchant the value of the merchandise. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor, and the penalties depend on the value of the merchandise and whether or not you are a repeat offender. If the value of the merchandise is less than $100, the penalty is a fine of up to $250 for a first offense; a fine of up to $500 for a second offense; and up to 2 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 for a third offense. If the value of the merchandise is over $100, the penalty is up to 2.5 years in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000.

Receiving Stolen Property

Receiving Stolen Property is defined under Massachusetts law as buying, receiving, or aiding in the concealment of stolen property, while knowing that it has been stolen. These cases usually hinge on whether or not that state can prove that you knew the goods were stolen. The law does not impose an affirmative duty to investigate where goods came from- if you bought an item and did not know that it was stolen, and did not investigate where it came from, you cannot be convicted under this statute. The penalty for this crime depends on the value of the property. If the property is valued at $250 or below, the crime is considered a misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty is 2.5 years in jail and/or a $250 fine. If the value of the goods is over $250, the maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and/or a $500 fine.

Receiving a Stolen Motor Vehicle

Knowingly taking control of a vehicle that is stolen is a crime in Massachusetts. The prosecutor must show that you bought, received, possessed, concealed, or obtained control of a stolen motor vehicle, while knowing that the motor vehicle was stolen. Defense of this crime usually hinges on the knowledge element — the prosecutor must prove that you knew the vehicle was stolen, which can be difficult. For example, case law in Massachusetts states that mere presence in a stolen motor vehicle is not enough to be convicted of this crime. Because it’s impossible for anyone to truly know what was in your mind, the prosecutor must rely on circumstantial evidence to show that you knew the vehicle was stolen. The law does not impose an affirmative duty to investigate if a vehicle was stolen or not. Being careless about where a vehicle came from is not enough to prove that you knew a vehicle was stolen. The possible penalties for Receiving a Stolen Motor Vehicle are listed below.

  • Up to 15 years in state prison, or up to 2.5 years in jail if prosecuted in district court
  • A fine of up to $15,000
  • Case cannot be Continued without a Finding
  • For a second or subsequent offense, you must serve at least 1 year in jail without the possibility of parole or early release

If you have been charged with a theft or property crime in Dedham, Needham, Natick, Quincy, Billerica, Framingham, Wellesley, Newton, Brookline, Wayland, Westwood, Boston, or anywhere in Suffolk, Norfolk, or Middlesex County, contact Attorney Hinman for immediate assistance at 617-283-4480, or by using the form to the left.