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Criminal Usury

Originally, “usury” simply referred to the practice of charging interest on loans, but it came to mean the charging of unreasonably high interest rates on loans. Today, usury is sometimes more commonly known as “loan sharking.” Usury eventually became a felony because of the difficulty involved in convicting of extortion those who engage in “loan sharking.” Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 271 Section 49 is the statute that prohibits usury. Under that law, it is a crime to knowingly charge, take, contract for, or receive more than 20 percent annual interest (or the equivalent rate for a shorter or longer period of time) on the sum loaned. Such charging, taking, contracting or receiving can be either direct or indirect. The interest or expenses are taken in the aggregate. Loans with annual interest rates of more than 20 percent are legal, however, if the Attorney General is notified and the lender keeps records and books.

When is the Crime of Criminal Usury Charged in Massachusetts?

The crime of criminal usury in Massachusetts is rarely charged. This is because businessmen are aware of this law and endeavor to stay clear of violating it. Moreover, legitimate businesses cannot get away with charging close to twenty percent interest, never mind exceeding it. When criminal usury is charged it is often done so in connection with other crimes used to prosecute organized crime such as a violation of the Massachusetts wiretap statute or racketeering.

Punishment for Criminal Usury in Massachusetts

If you’ve been charged with the crime of usury in Massachusetts, you are facing up to 10 years imprisonment in the state prison or a fine of up to ten thousand dollars or both the imprisonment and the fine. Additionally, under Chapter 271 Section 49, possession of any writing or instrument used to record a transaction that amounts to criminal usury is punishable by up to 2 ½ years in a jail or house of correction or a fine of up to five thousand dollars or both.

Massachusetts Criminal Usury Defense Lawyer: 617-263-6800

Stephen Neyman is a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney who has been practicing since the 1980s. Over the decades, Attorney Neyman has gained an outstanding reputation for success in Boston and throughout the state. His extensive experience in the field is without comparison, and he applies it so that his clients get the skilled and aggressive defense that they need. If you’ve been charged with usury or any other criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is wise to retain the services of a knowledgeable and well-respected lawyer like Stephen Neyman. Attorney Neyman knows that this is undoubtedly a difficult time for you and your family, and with him on your side, you will have thoughtful advice and support at every step of the way. If you would like to speak with Attorney Neyman about a criminal matter, call the Law Office of Stephen Neyman, P.C., his Boston-based firm, at 617-263-6800 or contact him online at your convenience.

Client Reviews
"We went to trial and won. He saved me fifteen years mandatory in state prison for this case." A.C. Boston, Massachusetts
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