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When does theft become a felony in Massachusetts?

| Oct 22, 2021 | Theft & Property Crimes

Theft is one of the most common criminal offenses, and it involves many kinds of criminal activity. Some people steal food from a store to feed their families. Other people steal items from friends and neighbors to feed an addiction. Even teenagers shoplift or steal from people by threatening them because they enjoy the thrill of taking a risk. 

Any of these situations could lead to someone getting arrested and charged with a crime. A teenager accused of shoplifting a piece of makeup or a DVD from the store will probably face misdemeanor charges. However, someone accused of stealing more valuable property will likely face felony charges. When does an act of theft become a felony in Massachusetts? 

A non-violent theft offense can become a felony 

Using a weapon to steal from someone will potentially enhance the charges against someone to a felony, but there doesn’t need to be a weapon or any violence for someone to face felony theft charges. If the total value of the property stolen exceeds the limit for petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor, then the person accused will face felony charges.

Once the total value of stolen items reaches $1,200, the individual accused of theft could face grand larceny charges, which are felony charges. The difference in penalties between these two categories of theft is noteworthy. Misdemeanor petit larceny charges may mean that you spend up to a year in jail, but grand larceny could mean imprisonment for five years. 

Learning more about the laws about theft in Massachusetts can help you respond to accusations that you broke them.