Larceny Offenses in Massachusetts

We can help you avoid a felony...

Massachusetts Larceny Criminal Defense Attorney

Larceny under $1200 (what many think of as “petty theft”) is a misdemeanor offense. It includes any stealing or taking of another’s property and the total value of that property is under $1,200.

If the property is valued at $1,200 or more, then the charge would be Larceny Over $1,200, which is a felony in Massachusetts.

M.G.L. chapter 266, section 30 gives the definition of all larceny crimes, both misdemeanor and felony. It provides:

“Whoever steals, or with intent to defraud obtains by a false pretence, or whoever unlawfully, and with intent to steal or embezzle, converts, or secretes with intent to convert, the property of another as defined in this section, whether such property is or is not in his possession at the time of such conversion or secreting, shall be guilty of larceny…”

It is important to note that the statute provides for three different forms of larceny – larceny by trespass, larceny by fraud, and larceny by embezzlement.

Larceny by Trespass:

This is the most typical type of larceny. Imagine Person A sees a phone left on a table in a restaurant. Person A goes and picks up the phone without any intention of returning it to its rightful owner. Person A has committed a “trespass” by taking the phone without any right to it. “Property” is also a very broad term that can encompass nearly anything a person owns – money, receipts, pets, contracts, electronic data, bank notes, etc…

Larceny by Fraud:

When a person uses false pretenses to gain legal title. There must be an intentional misrepresentation.

Larceny by Embezzlement:

An embezzlement occurs when a fraudulent taking of property happens after being entrusted with the property by the lawful owner. At its most basic level, Person A gives Person B some property to hold for safekeeping. Person B then takes the property for themselves, or sells it. Because Person B “converted” the property, or acted in a way to deny the rightful owner their ownership rights, Person B embezzled the property they were originally trusted with.


The punishment for Larceny Under $1,200 is up to 1 year in jail, or a fine up to $300. Larceny Over $1,200 carries a jail sentence up to 2 years, or up to 5 years in state prison and/or up to a $25,000 fine. Restitution would also be ordered if the stolen property were never returned or damaged in some way.

If you are facing a larceny charge you should consult an experienced attorney right away. The right attorney can get you the best results for your case and likely have you avoid any jail time. If you have been charged with a Larceny crime, call us at (617) 723-4163 for a free case evaluation.

Some related content...

Criminal Defense FAQ

We Hope This Helps!

NO, you shouldn't! At least not without a lawyer after careful consideration.

Think about it. The police have a job, which is to solve crimes and bring criminal charges. The onlyreason for them to call you is because they are looking for evidence and there is no better evidence than your statement. Very often, they are calling you because they don't have enough evidence to charge you yet and they're looking to make their case with your statements.

They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. There is nothing to "clear up". They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Seriously, don't speak to the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer first.

First, unless you have committed a very serious crime, the chances of you going to jail are minimal (especially if you hire a good attorney). In any event, this is not something that typically would happen until many months down the road.

We're not going to lie to you, if the prosecution can meet the burden of proof on your case, there will be consequences, ranging from a slap on the wrist to jail time. Our job is to minimize the consequences and to eliminate them, if possible.

Of course, this depends on the charges, your criminal history and many other factors, so please feel free to reach out and we can give you a more specific answer.

No, no, no, no no! Even if you decide to eventually take responsibility, your lawyer should negotiate the best deal possible. What this means depends entirely the circumstances of your criminal charge, but very often you can take responsibility and still avoid a permanent criminal record. It may also involve:

  • Pre-Trial Probation or Pre-Trial Diversion
  • An outright Dismissal of your charges upon payment of court costs
  • A Continuation Without a Finding, including the length and terms of your probation (after which the case is dismissed)
  • A period of straight probation without a jail or state prison sentence
  • A suspended sentence, where a sentence is imposed, but not served unless probation is violated
  • A lesser sentence to jail or prison and less severe conditions upon release

This is to say nothing of the fact that your case may be winnable on a motion to dismiss or at trial!

In many cases, yes. Some cases have issues that may justify a Motion to Suppress or a Motion to Dismiss for lack of evidence.

Others can and should be taken to trial, or call for a plea as soon as possible so the client can move on with their life.

The decision on what to do really depends on the facts of the case and your individual goals.

This is why it is important to speak to an experienced Massachusetts criminal attorney who can quickly evaluate your specific case to see if there are any issues worth pursuing.

Related Content:

Strategy and Potential Issues in Massachusetts Criminal Cases

As a criminal defense lawyer, the fact that you clicked this accordion drives me crazy!

No, do NOT talk to the police without a lawyer. They are not your friends. They are not trying to help you. They will not go away if you just admit it and take responsibility.

Their job is to gather evidence of crimes and there is no better evidence than your statement.

It may be that we ultimately decide to give a statement, but only if it will help your case and after careful consideration!

It is very possible that you can avoid a criminal record, especially if you don't have a significant criminal history and and it is a relatively minor offense.

The answer to this question is very case-specific, depending on the facts of your case and what we decide to do with it.

A vast majority of our criminal cases cases are handled on a flat fee basis, ranging from a clerk-magistrate's hearing to superior court or federal court cases.

All we can tell you is that we are always up front and honest, and will treat you fairly. We're also willing to work with you on payments if we can, as this is not all about the money.

Of course, it is prefereable to have an attorney at the arraignment, but don't panic! First, you can call or text me at any time and I may be able to be there. If not, take a look at this link for all the information you need:

Arraignment in Massachusetts – What You Need to Know.

Where you can find us

Please Contact Us Anytime!

1583 Beacon Street • Brookline • MA 02446

Contact us anytime, 24/7.  If we're up, we're responding!


This is a PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATION and will be kept STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. It will be provided to actual attorneys.