Shoplifting & Theft in Boston: Understanding Penalties and Consequences

Theft and shoplifting are serious crimes that can result in harsh penalties in Boston, MA. These crimes not only impact the victim but also affect the economy and society as a whole. As a result, the state of Massachusetts has strict laws in place to deal with theft and shoplifting. In this post, we will discuss the penalties associated with theft and shoplifting in Boston, MA.

Definition of Theft and Shoplifting

Theft is the taking of property without the owner’s consent with the intention to deprive the owner of that property. Theft can be carried out in various ways, including larceny, embezzlement, and fraud. On the other hand, shoplifting is a type of theft that specifically involves stealing goods from a store or retail establishment. It can be conducted in various ways, such as concealing merchandise or swapping price tags.

The Penalties Associated with Theft and Shoplifting in Boston, MA.

The penalties associated with theft and shoplifting depend on many factors, including the type of property stolen, the value of the stolen property, and whether the offender has prior convictions.

Massachusetts law defines theft or larceny as the wrongful taking, stealing, or carrying away of the property of another person without their consent. The law divides larceny into different categories based on the value of the property taken. In addition, a separate statute addresses the offense of embezzlement, which involves taking property that has been entrusted to an individual.

In Massachusetts, the penalties for larceny vary depending on the value of the stolen property. For property stolen under $1,200, the crime can carry a maximum penalty of 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $300. If the stolen property is worth more than $1,200 but less than $25,000, the maximum penalty is 5 years in jail or a fine of up to $25,000, or both. Additionally, if the stolen property is an automobile, the penalties increase to up to 15 years in prison or a fine of up to $15,000, or both.

On the other hand, Boston treats theft cases based on their severity rather than the value of the stolen property. Petit larceny or theft of property valued under $1200 is considered a misdemeanor and can lead to a jail term of up to one year or a fine of up to $2,500, or both. In contrast, grand larceny is considered a form of felony theft that carries a maximum penalty of up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

Massachusetts law also specifies other types of theft, such as embezzlement, receiving stolen property and shoplifting, among others. Each crime carries its own set of penalties depending on the severity and value of the offense.

Theft Charges in other cities in Massachusetts

Regarding other differences in Massachusetts cities’ legal systems and Boston’s, there are some minor variations. For example, the city of Worcester, Massachusetts maintains a pre-trial probation program that can result in the dismissal of minor criminal offenses such as petit larceny if the accused completes a probationary period without incident. However, this program is not available in Boston. Check your local laws for specific laws that apply to you.

In summary, the specific penalties for theft in Massachusetts are dependent on the value of the stolen property while Boston determines penalties based on the severity of the crime committed. Both jurisdictions offer their own unique programs and approaches to criminal justice.

Theft and Shoplifting by Employees:

In cases where an employer is caught stealing from his/her employer, Massachusetts law considers it to be embezzlement. Embezzlement is a more serious crime than shoplifting and carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $25,000.

Probation and Community Service:

Aside from fines, offenders can also be sentenced to probation and community service. Probation requires the offender to regularly report to a probation officer for a set period, during which they must obey certain restrictions or requirements set by the court. Community service, on the other hand, involves carrying out unpaid work for a certain number of hours for an organization or government agency.


Restitution is the payment of a sum of money to the victim which represents the stolen property’s value. In many theft and shoplifting cases, the offender is required to make restitution as part of their sentence.

The state of Massachusetts enforces strict laws to deal with theft and shoplifting cases. The penalties for theft and shoplifting in Boston, MA, depend on various factors, including the value of the stolen property and whether the offender has previous convictions. Penalties for shoplifting and theft typically involve fines, probation, community service, and restitution. As a law firm, Cutler Law Boston has over 20 years of experience in handling criminal cases. If you or a loved one is charged with theft or shoplifting, we strongly advise you to seek legal advice. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will provide you with the representation you need to obtain the best possible outcome for your case.