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What is the Penalty for Shoplifting in Massachusetts?

Updated: Mar 13

Shoplifting seems like a relatively simple offense - it's when you take something from a store. However, in Massachusetts, shoplifting encompasses a wide range of activities related to attempting to steal things from stores.

In Massachusetts, shoplifting is a misdemeanor. Depending on whether you've been convicted of shoplifting before, the punishment can be up to 2 and a half years in the House of Corrections (jail).

What is Shoplifting in Massachusetts?

Shoplifting in Massachusetts includes a variety of offenses:

  • Taking something for sale from a store

  • Concealing an item on yourself

  • Alter a price tag and attempt to buy merchandise based on a lower price

  • Putting merchandise from one box into another box if it lowers the price

  • Remove a shopping cart

Can I Go to Jail for Shoplifting in Massachusetts?

The penalty for shoplifting varies according to whether you've been convicted of shoplifting before and what the value of the items were.

If the value is less than $250:

  • First Offense: Maximum Fine of $250.

  • Second Offense: Fine from $100 to $500.

  • Third or More Offense: Jail up to Two Years, Fine of up to $500

If the value is at least $250, you may be given up to two-and-a-half years in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. If the value is over $250, though, you could be charged with larceny and possibly a felony.

Can the Store Owner Arrest Me for Shoplifting?

The store owner is allowed to hold a shoplifter for a reasonable amount of time in what is known as "shopkeeper's privilege." See MGL ch. 231, s. 94B.

Furthermore, a police officer can arrest you for shoplifting even if they didn't witness it.

If you've been charged with shoplifting in Massachusetts, it's important to contact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who will fight for your rights and protect you from the possible negative effects on your life. Contact me today. My office is located in Boston, Massachusetts, but I handle criminal cases, including shoplifting, in all Massachusetts courts. Contact me at 617-356-8217.