Theft is a crime in which a person intentionally takes property without consent, and with the intent of permanently depriving the rightful owner. The crime of theft is most often associated with shoplifting. Although a seemingly minor crime, shoplifting charges can result in very serious penalties, especially when involving higher-end items, or if there are previous convictions. If you have been accused of shoplifting, contact our attorneys.

Massachusetts Shoplifting Law

Shoplifting is criminalized in Chapter 266 Section 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws. This statute covers the crime which most people consider to be shoplifting; taking possession of and carrying away any merchandise which is offered for sale in a retail establishment without paying. There are also several related crimes listed in the statute that are subject to the same penalties, which include the following:

  • Switching or altering price tags in an attempt to purchase merchandise for less than the actual retail price.
  • Intentionally taking a product from its container and placing it in another container, in order to avoid paying the proper retail price.
  • Recording a value for merchandise which is less than the actual retail value. in order to deprive the owner of the full retail value.


Shoplifting penalties depend on the value of the items, and get progressively tougher for each conviction. For merchandise worth less than $100, a first offense is subject to a fine of $250, and the fine for a second conviction can be up to $500. A third conviction, and any subsequent convictions, will result in incarceration for up to 2 years. If the value of the merchandise is over $100, a first conviction can result in fines of $1,000, up to 2½ years in prison, or both.

Contact a Theft Defense Attorney

Even if it is your first theft offense and you are only facing a fine, it is important to keep your criminal record clear. If you have stolen a high value item or have prior convictions you are likely facing jail time, and need an experienced theft attorney in Boston to plan a successful defense. Contact our law offices today.

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