Justia 10.0 badge
Barnstable County Bar Association
Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys

Theft or Larceny Offenses

In Massachusetts there are a broad range of crimes that are considered theft offenses. Whether it be a simple shoplifting charge or allegations of significant larceny of property or money, every type of theft allegation should be defended against vigorously from the outset. Cape Cod Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Kelley has represented individuals at all stages of theft investigations and prosecutions. Attorney Kelley has successfully fought against theft charges being issued against his clients, conducted investigations to dispute claims made by government officials, litigated motions leading to dismissals and secured Not Guilty verdicts at trial.

Types of Theft Charges


A conviction for Shoplifting in Massachusetts is generally punished by a fine or a probation period. In order to be convicted of shoplifting, the government must prove that a defendant intentionally took possession, carried away, or transferred retail property, possessed or owned by someone other than the defendant and that the defendant took such merchandise with the intent to permanently deprive the property from the owner. Most people are familiar with examples of what constitutes a shoplifting violation. Walking into a convenience store and taking a candy bar without paying for it on purpose is an example of a shoplift in Massachusetts.

Receiving Stolen Property

The offense known as Receiving Stolen Property has both a misdemeanor and a felony component under the laws in Massachusetts. If the amount of stolen property a person is alleged to be in possession of is greater than $250 dollars, the matter is considered a felony and can be punishable by up to ten years in State prison. If the value of the property stolen is alleged to be under $250 dollars than the offense is considered to be a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to two year and a half years in a local House of Correction.

In order to be convicted of Receiving Stolen Property the government must prove that an individual had in their possession property that they knew to be stolen. The government is required to prove that the property in question was in fact stolen but they are not required to prove who actually stole the property. The most common defense in a receiving stolen property case is that the person in possession of the stolen property did not know that the property was in fact stolen. In order to prove that the individual actually knew the items in question to be stolen some evidence is required to view into an individual’s mind at the time. Unless the individual makes a statement that they knew the items to be stolen, the government is forced to rely on the facts and circumstances surrounding the event in order to prove the knowledge requirement. This is often very difficult to do in a prosecution for Receiving Stolen property.


Much like Receiving Stolen Property, Larceny in Massachusetts has both a misdemeanor and felony provisions under the laws in Massachusetts. If the amount of property alleged to be stolen is greater than $250 than the offense is considered a felony and can be punishable by up to ten years in State Prison. If the value of the property stolen is alleged to be under $250 than the offense is considered a misdemeanor and can be punished by up to two and half years in the House of Correction.

There are numerous Larceny related offenses under Massachusetts law. In order to be convicted of Larceny in Massachusetts, the government must prove that an individual took and carried away property that was owned or possessed by someone than the defendant and that the defendant took the property with the intention of permanently depriving it from the owner or the person in rightful possession of it.

The term “property” under Massachusetts law includes but is not limited to money, movable items of personal property, bank notes, public records, anything that is part of or attached to real estate, apartment security deposits, electronically processed or stored data or even domesticated animals. What is and what is not considered property is not often the central issue in a prosecution for Larceny.

The property being that of another and the defendant intending to permanently deprive said property from the owner are more often at issue during a larceny prosecution. If the defendant took another person’s property in an honest and reasonable belief that he or she had a legal right to even if that belief was in fact mistaken, the defendant does not have the required intent to steal and as such cannot be convicted of a Larceny under Massachusetts laws.

Other theft related offenses in Massachusetts include:

  • Larceny by a Single Scheme
  • Larceny by Check
  • Larceny from a Building
  • Larceny from a Person
  • Larceny by False Pretenses
  • Identity Fraud by Posing as Another
  • Identity Fraud by Obtaining Personal Information
  • Larceny by Embezzlement

If you are being investigated or have already been charged with a theft related offense you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. A conviction for theft related offense can have a negative impact on your ability to gain employment in a wide variety of professions. Theft offenses are considered crimes of moral turpitude and will likely raise serious concerns with potential employers about whether you will be a risk to steal from the company.

Call Attorney Kelley today for a free consultation. During the consultation he will analyze the facts and circumstances of your case and begin to present a plan of defense. Attorney Kelley has the experience and skills necessary to make sure that your case reaches the best outcome possible. Don’t take chances with your future. Call Cape Cod Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Kelley today.

Client Reviews

Matt knows how to prosecute a case which makes a uniquely valuable advocate. I highly recommend Matt Kelley to anyone in need of legal services.

- Joseph Casey, Retired Probation Officer

"Attorney Kelley shined a light for me during a dark situation. He was thorough and honest and gave me a voice and a confidence in a situation that I couldn't navigate."

- JG, Yarmouth

"I was extremely lucky to meet Matthew Kelley as I was waiting for my arraignment, and would like to offer the highest possible recommendation for him to represent anyone that requires a criminal defense attorney. It was my first time dealing with the legal system- I was completely overwhelmed and...

- L.K., West Barnstable

“Matthew Kelley was consummate professional while handling my case. He was honest and realistic with his vision on how to proceed. I would recommend his services to anyone. “

- JD, East Dennis

Leave Us a Message

Free Consultation (508) 432-3304

We Accept the Following Credit Cards:

Mastercard LogoVisa Logo