Have you been caught shoplifting?
In Massachusetts a shoplifter is defined as: “Any person who intentionally takes possession of, carries away, transfers or causes to be carried away or transferred, any merchandise displayed, held, stored or offered for sale by any store or other retail mercantile establishment with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use of benefit of such merchandise or converting the same to the use of such person without paying to the merchant the value thereof…”
Massachusetts Shoplifting Penalties
If you have been caught shoplifting, there can be serious legal consequences, including fines and jail. Also, any criminal conviction on your record can be damaging to your future, including immigration status, school loans and work. The penalties you could be facing depend on the value of the goods and the number of prior offenses. If you are caught shoplifting items valued at less than $100, the penalties for a first offense are up to a $250 fine. That fine doubles to $500 for a second offense and for a third offense you can be imprisoned for up to two years.
If you are convicted of shoplifting items valued at or more than $100, the penalty for a first offense can be as much as 21/2 years in jail and a fine of $1,000. If you are caught shoplifting a second or third time and the value of the good is more than $100, the penalties can be much more serious. Under Massachusetts shoplifting laws, a merchant is also allowed to recover damages resulting from the shoplifting activities. The merchant can actually recover up to $500 or the actual damages or theft that occurred from the alleged criminal act.
What to Do if You are Caught Shoplifting
If you are caught shoplifting, being arrested or summoned to court on a shoplifting charge is a difficult and humiliating experience. However, even with the most complicated cases, a good shoplifting lawyer will make sure you get the minimum penalty possible. Even if you think you are guilty, you deserve a second chance.
Acting on your case quickly is important. The earlier you get a shoplifting attorney on your side, the more legal options you will have available. If you have been caught shoplifting, you should have an experienced shoplifting attorney, with a winning track record, by your side when you are arraigned or summonsed to court. In that way, you can immediately begin to challenge the facts and circumstances of your case, and make sure that the court does not hold you or set a high bail.
Above all, do not act in your own defense. You may be asking yourself, why do I need a defense lawyer for a “minor” shoplifting offense. The answer is simple, really: a good Massachusetts criminal lawyer, who knows the ins and outs of the shoplifting laws in Massachusetts, is critical to protect your rights and your freedom, and your best chance to beat the charges or walk away with a minimal penalty, or no penalty at all.