Shoplifting Charges in Massachusetts
Shoplifting is defined as the intentional carrying away or possession of
merchandise that is offered for sale by any store or retail merchant with the intention of depriving the merchant or store of the value of the item by not paying for it. Under Massachusetts criminal law, the crime of Shoplifting is a misdemeanor and may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 30A.
Legal Elements of Shoplifting
In order to be found guilty of Shoplifting under Massachusetts criminal law, there must be strong evidence of the following legal elements:
- that the defendant intentionally took possession of, carried away or transferred, or caused to be carried away or transferred, retail merchandise;
- that the merchandise was owned or possessed by someone other than the defendant; and
- that the defendant took possession of, carried away or transferred or caused to be carried away or transferred, that merchandise with an intent to deprive the merchant of its possession, use or benefit, or with the intent to convert it to his or her own use without having paid full value for it.
Shoplifting can also be committed by doing any of the following conduct:
- concealing merchandise on the defendant’s person or somewhere that is under the defendant’s control;
- by switching a price tag in an attempt to pay less than full retail price of the item;
- by switching the container that the item was in to another container;
- by ringing up merchandise for a lesser value than the actual retail price; or
- by removing a shopping cart from the retail merchant’s premises.
Potential Punishment if Convicted of Shoplifting in Massachusetts
The potential consequences for Shoplifting, if convicted, in the Commonwealth may be found at Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 266, Section 30A. A defendant convicted of Shoplifting, where the retail value of the goods is less than $250, shall be fined not more than $250. Where the value of the goods exceeds $250, the defendant shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 2 ½ years.
Examples of Shoplifting
Shoplifting can be committed in several different ways and is most commonly occurs where a person steals merchandise from a place of business. Some examples of Shoplifting are as follows:
- Taking a pack of gum off the shelf in a gas station and placing it in your pocket or somewhere it is concealed without paying for it;
- Putting store clothing on underneath your own clothes and leaving the store;
- Placing an item from one store inside the bag of another store (ex. While at the mall you buy a few shirts from Old Navy and then walk into Gap and take a shirt off the shelf and place it in your Old Navy bag);
- Filling a shopping cart with several items and walking out of the store without paying for them;
- Taking a shopping cart from a store parking lot;
- Removing the price tag from one item and switching it with the price tag of another item (ex. You take the price tag off a pair of sunglasses that cost $50 and switch it with the price tag of another pair of sunglasses that cost $10);
- Removing an item from its original box or container and placing it in another item’s box or container (ex. You try on two pairs of shoes, one pair is $150 and the other is $25, and switch the boxes so the expensive pair is in the box for the cheaper pair).
If you have been charged with shoplifting and need an experienced attorney call (508) 213-9113 to schedule a free consultation with the Massachusetts Defense Attorneys at the Law Office of John L. Calcagni III.