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Larceny by Stealing in a Building
One of the many larceny crimes in Massachusetts is larceny by stealing in a building. Set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 20, the law states that:
Whoever steals in a building, ship, vessel or railroad car shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than five years or by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment in jail for not more than two years
To prove you guilty of this crime prosecutors in Massachusetts must prove four things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you took and carried away property;
- That you took the property from a building;
- That the property belonged to another person;
- That you took this property with the intent to deprive the person of that property permanently.
This law also applies to stealing in a ship, vessel or railroad car. There a few important things you should know about this crime. Larceny by stealing in a building is a felony. The law requires that the property that is the object of the theft be "under the protection of the building" rather than under the protection of people present. In other words, the property that is stolen must have been placed in the building for safe keeping. For instance, stealing merchandise from retail stores does not constitute larceny from a building. The language from two Massachusetts cases best defines this law where the courts held:
For over 100 years, it has been held that in order to obtain a conviction for the crime of larceny in a building, "it is not enough [for the Commonwealth] to prove that the property stolen was in a building at the time of the theft, and that the defendant was the thief. It is necessary to show also that the property was under the protection of the building, placed there for safe keeping, and not under the eye or personal care of some one in the building." Commonwealth v. Sollivan, 40 Mass.App.Ct. 284 (1996) quoting from Commonwealth v. Lester, 129 Mass. 101 (1880)Does it Matter how Much the Property I Stole is Worth?
The value of the property stolen is of no consequence. No matter how much the stolen item was worth the crime is a felony. This differs dramatically from the more conventional crimes of larceny under $250 and larceny over $250. To avoid having a felony conviction on your record you need to hire a lawyer when charged with this crime. You don’t want to have a felony record for stealing something of very little value and a good criminal defense attorney can help you avoid that problem.
The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman defends all types of theft crimes, not only in Massachusetts but throughout the country. Cases involving larceny from a building are often defensible. For more information on Massachusetts Larceny cases please call our office at your convenience. We are available all hours, 7 day per week.