Facing criminal charges is never an easy thing. No matter how “minor” a charge is, it will cause you significant stress and impact on your reputation, your relationships, and your self-worth as you face the potential for fines, and the fear of jail time.
But don’t beat yourself up. We can help put it all in perspective, and realize it almost certainly isn’t as bad as you fear. We can work with you to ensure you get the best possible results when you need to appear in court. In fact, most of the time, if you’ve received a criminal citation for shoplifting in Massachusetts, we can work to make the charge go away with no criminal offense or record.
Most people accused of shoplifting feel ashamed and panicked. What was a momentary lapse of judgment or desperate and impulsive decision now has legal consequences.
In Massachusetts, shoplifting laws are intimidating, even though most of the time it is not a truly serious criminal charges (even though the store may want you to think so!)
Whether you stole because you made a poor impulsive decision, you felt like you didn’t have a choice or if you simply did it because you didn’t think you would get caught—you now have to deal with the police and the courts in ways you may have never had to before.
If this is your first experience in the criminal court system, it is understandable to be nervous. But, when you have an experienced and aggressive defense attorney on your side, you can be confident that your rights are protected, and we can absolutely get you through this with a minimal impact on your life.
In Massachusetts, most criminal shoplifting incidents result in a criminal citation to a “show cause” hearing also called a Clerk Magistrate’s Hearing.
The good news is that very often, a lawyer can get the charged dropped completely at the hearing. Even when you are totally guilty and know they have to dead to rights.
If you have been arrested, the case is a little more complicated, but very often a reasonable deal can be worked out for minimal penalties if it isn’t a serious charge and there aren’t prior offenses.
Massachusetts Shoplifting Penalties
Like most states, the penalty you face for a shoplifting charge in Massachusetts is dependent on the value of the goods you are accused of stealing, Any criminal history also plays a role at sentencing.
If the goods were valued at less than $100, you will face fines of $250 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense. However, for a third offense shoplifting charge, you will face possible incarceration of up to 2 years.
If the goods were valued at $100 or more, you will face up to 28 months in prison and fines reaching $1,000 for a first offense. This potential prison sentence only gets longer as your criminal history grows. If you have a more extensive your history, the more time you are looking to serve.
Ref: Mass. Gen Laws Ch 266 Sec 30A
How Does a Shoplifting Citation Work?
We have prepared this infographic that explains how these cases work, and how the outcomes are usually pretty good.
What about Civil Shoplifting Penalties?
In addition to criminal penalties, the store owner you are accused of shoplifting from has a “right” to seek damages for more than what you stole. In most cases, they can recover more than $500 beyond the initial value of the theft in what is called a civil relief action, an often threatening letter from a retailer or attorneys they have hired to try to collect extra money from you.
We can talk to you about this in more detail, but you should not feel obligated to pay this civil relief order.
We are Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers that have handled many shoplifting cases before. We know the penalties you are facing and the stress you are under because of it. And most importantly, we can help you fix this legal problem, usually with no impact to your criminal record, and nothing that would show up on a background check.
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Massachusetts, call us or fill out the form to be in touch with a local defense attorney as soon as possible. We can offer you a free consultation on your case and some potentially valuable advice at how to proceed with minimum penalties, and very possibly, no criminal charges filed, or charges dismissed after a short period with no further incidents.