Larceny is defined as the carrying and taking away of the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the other person of that property. Under Massachusetts criminal law, the crime of Larceny may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 30.
If charges were larceny from the person please go to Larceny from the Person.
if larceny charges involves a stolen motor vehicle go to Larceny of a Stolen Motor Vehicle.
Legal Elements of Larceny
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Larceny can be committed in several different ways and each type of Larceny requires the proof of different elements and carries with it different potential punishments if convicted.
Larceny by Stealing
In order to be found guilty of Larceny by Stealing under Massachusetts criminal law, there must be strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- the defendant took and carried away property;
- that the property was owned or possessed by someone other than the defendant; and
- the defendant did so with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.
For the defendant to have taken and carried away property, he or she unlawfully physically transferred the property from the other person’s control or possession to his or her own possession or control. It does not matter if the transfer involves only slight movement or the property, or if it lasts only for a short time.
Property involved may include money, movable items of personal property, records, items, anything that is part of or attached to real estate, and domesticated animals.
Larceny by False Pretenses
In order to be found guilty of Larceny by False Pretenses under Massachusetts criminal law, there must be strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- that the defendant made a false statement of fact;
- that the defendant knew or believed that the statement was false when he or she made it;
- that the defendant made the false statement of fact with the intent that the alleged victim rely on it as true; and
- that the alleged victim did in fact rely on the statement as true and as a result of that reliance subsequently parted with the property in question.
A false statement may be made orally, in writing, or by acts or in whatever way that ideas may be communicated to another person.
Examples of Larceny by False Pretenses
A person may be found guilty of Larceny by False Pretenses in several ways. The important difference between Larceny and Larceny by False Pretenses is that in order to obtain the property, the person must make a false representation of a past or existing material fact, knowing that it was false with the intent to defraud the other person, causing that person to rely upon the false fact in order to relinquish the property.
For example, you go to buy a car and you tell the person selling the car you will pay the $10,000 for the car next week when you receive your paycheck, but you do not intend to actually pay the person. The person agrees and transfers title of the car over to you and you drive away with the car. You made a false representation of a material fact, i.e. that you would pay for the car next week when you get your paycheck, knowing it was false and with the intention of obtaining the car and never intending to pay the seller for it. You would be guilty of Larceny by False Pretenses.
Some other examples of Larceny by False Pretenses are as follows:
- Paying for an item with a check knowing that you do not and will not have the funds in the bank to cover the check when it is cashed or that the bank account on which the check is drawn is closed;
- Cashing a check or withdrawing money from the bank using another person’s identification;
- Filling out and using a check that belongs to another person to buy an item without that persons consent;
- Filling out bank or loan documents which contain false information in order to receive a loan or mortgage;
- Representing yourself to be another or affiliated with something you are not affiliated with in order to obtain financial information (ex. You call a person and say you are calling from the electric company and you as for the other person’s financial information to set up online banking, you obtain the information and actually use it to steal the money in the account);
- You sign a person’s name representing that you are an authorized signer in order to receive the property for which you are signing (ex. You are hired to paint the front of another person’s house and while there a delivery guy comes and asks if you live here and could sign for a package. You say “yes” and sign for the package);
- You represent to another that the item you are selling is worth much more than it actually is and the other person buys it for that amount (ex. You have several different paintings that look identical to paintings by Van Gogh and you represent to the buyer that they are genuine and sell the painting for $10,000 but the painting is actually a fake and only worth $25);
Larceny by Embezzlement
In order to be found guilty of Larceny by Embezzlement under Massachusetts criminal law, there must be strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- that the defendant, while in a position of trust or confidence, was entrusted with possession of personal property belonging to another person;
- that the defendant fraudulently took, hid, or converted that property for his or her own use without the consent of the owner; and
- with the intent to permanently deprive that person of the property.
Examples of Larceny by Embezzlement
Generally, Embezzlement occurs where the defendant is an employee who was entrusted with money or other property by his or her employer. Examples include:
- A bank teller who pockets deposits;
- A bookkeeper who takes customer refunds for himself;
- An attorney who uses the funds in an escrow account for himself or herself;
- A payroll clerk who doesn’t deposit the correct amount of employment tax, keeping the rest for himself or herself;
- The officer or other official of a non-profit taking portions of donations and keeping them for himself or herself.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Larceny in Massachusetts
The potential consequences for Larceny, if convicted, in the Commonwealth may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 30.
A defendant convicted of a Larceny under any of the above theories, where the retail value of the goods is less than $1200 shall be sentenced to imprisonment in jail for not more than 1 year.
Where the value exceeds $1200, the defendant shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or by a fine of not more than $25,000 and imprisonment in jail for not more than 2 years.
If the Larceny is committed against a person 60 years of age or older or a person with a disability, and the property value exceeds $250, the defendant shall be punished by state prison for not more than 10 years or in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years.
If the property value did not exceed $250, a sentence of imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years may be imposed.
If you have been charged with Larceny and need an experienced attorney call (508) 213-9113 to schedule a free consultation with top Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III.