Massachusetts Shoplifting Attorney
Have You Been Charged with Shoplifting in Hampshire or Franklin County?
A shoplifting charge must be taken seriously, even if it’s your first offense. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll only receive a slap on the wrist. Theft-related crimes are prosecuted aggressively in Massachusetts. Depending on whether your shoplifting charge is categorized as a misdemeanor or felony, the penalties you face may include imprisonment, fines, probation, and restitution.
A shoplifting conviction will leave a permanent mark on your record which can affect you in ways you may not realize. Because shoplifting is considered a crime of “moral turpitude,” you may be seen as a dishonest or untrustworthy person. This attack on your character can jeopardize your relationships, career, and self-worth for years to come.
If you were arrested for shoplifting or received a summons in the mail to appear at a clerk magistrate hearing, it’s important to seek legal counsel right away.
At the Law Offices of Thomas Kokonoswki, Esq., we are not here to judge. You may have genuinely forgotten to pay for an item when leaving the store or maybe you did take steal something but later regretted your actions. Whatever the circumstances of your case, you are entitled to a strong defense.
As a former prosecutor with 25 years of criminal law experience under his belt, criminal defense attorney Tom Kokonowski is ready to exhaust every possible defense to clear you of the charges or minimize the impact of any penalties.
Call today to setup a free consultation. For Northhampton, call: 413-585-9200. For Amherst, 413-549-0022
Defining Shoplifting in Massachusetts
Under Chapter 266 Section 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws, it is illegal to “intentionally conceal, take possession of, carry away, transfer or cause to be carried away” any merchandise without paying the merchant.
This definition can be broken down to encompass the following actions
- taking possession of merchandise without paying for it
- concealing merchandise in a retail establishment
- switching or altering price tags in an attempt to purchase merchandise for less than the actual retail price
- moving merchandise from one container into another
Penalties for a Shoplifting Crime in Massachusetts
The penalty you face for a shoplifting charge in Massachusetts depends on the value of the merchandise you are accused of taking and whether you have a prior criminal record
If the total value of the merchandise is less than $100, you are subject to the following penalties
- Fine up to $250 for a first offense
- Fine up to $500 for a second offense
- imprisonment of up to 2 years for a third offense
For merchandise valued at more than $100, penalties may include
- imprisonment of up to 2½ years and $1,000 fine for first offense
Shoplifting Civil Penalties
In addition to criminal charges, the merchant you allegedly stole from has the right to bring a civil lawsuit to seek damages up to $500 over actual damages.
What is a Clerk Magistrate Hearing and What Should I Expect?
If you received a shoplifting citation, you need to send in the form to the court address on the back within 4 business days. The court will then notify you of the date you need to appear for a Clerk’s Magistrate Hearing, or “Show Cause” Hearing. This hearing is meant to determine whether there is enough evidence to formally charge you.
Criminal defense attorney Kokonowski can represent you at this hearing and put forth a compelling argument that convinces the magistrate not to issue a criminal complaint. If this happens, the case is over and it will never appear on your record.
If you are charged, the case will move ahead with an arraignment.
Attorney Kokonowski can negotiate with the prosecution to lessen the charges and/or reduce the penalties. Alternative sentencing may include
- completing an online course
- paying restitution
- completing community service
- serving probation