Massachusetts G.L. c. 266, § 30: Larceny

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266, Section 30 makes it a crime to unlawfully steal, embezzle, or convert another person’s personal property, real property, or trade secrets.

To be convicted of larceny, the Commonwealth must prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) The defendant commits one of the following overt acts:

  • Steals another person’s property or trade secret;
  • Unlawfully converts another person’s property or trade secret;
  • Unlawfully secretes (conceals) another person’s property or trade secret;
  • Obtaining another person’s property or trade secret by false pretence (lying); or
  • Unlawfully takes, carries away, conceals, or copies another person’s trade secret.

(2) The defendant committed one of the above acts with:

  • Intent to defraud;
  • Intent to steal or embezzle; or
  • Intent to convert.

It does not matter whether the property or the trade secret was in the defendant’s possession at the time of the act, or what the value of the trade secret may be, for a defendant to be convicted of larceny.

The term “property” includes (but is not limited to) the following examples:

  • Money, checks, or promissory notes;
  • Deeds, contracts, and other documents of legal or official significance;
  • Anything which is a part of or affixed to real property;
  • Personal items and domesticated animals (pets);
  • Electronic data; and
  • Telecommunication services.

Similarly, the term “trade secret” encompasses anything tangible, intangible, and/or electronically stored, constituting, representing, evidencing, or recording any secret information, design, process, procedure, formula, invention, or improvement that is scientific or technical, or relates to merchandising, production, or management.

Accordingly, under the statute, any of the following acts may be considered larceny:

  • Stealing real or personal property
  • Obtaining real or personal property by false pretence, with an intent to defraud
  • Unlawfully converting real or personal property, with an intent to steal or embezzle
  • Unlawfully secreting real or personal property, with an intent to convert
  • Stealing trade secrets
  • Obtaining trade secrets by false pretence, with an intent to defraud
  • Unlawfully converting or secreting trade secrets, with an intent to steal or embezzle
  • Unlawfully taking, carrying away, concealing, or copying trade secrets, with an intent to convert

While the statute applies to all types of property, there are specific provisions for stealing firearms and for stealing property with a value exceeding $250. Additionally, the statute has special provisions for when the property is stolen from common carriers, persons aged 60 years or older, and persons with disabilities.

Defenses to Charges of Larceny

The following are some potential defenses to an alleged larceny:

  • The defendant had lawful permission, or honestly and reasonably believed that he had lawful permission, to take the property;
  • The property was abandoned, or the defendant honestly and reasonably believed that the property was abandoned;
  • The defendant had an ownership interest, or honestly and reasonably believed he had an ownership interest, in the property.
Penalties

Punishment for a conviction of larceny depends on both the property stolen and the person from whom the property was stolen.

Property Stolen:Stolen From:Punishment:
Firearm or property with a value of more than $250AnyoneImprisonment in state prison for up to 5 years, or a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment in jail for up to 2 years
Property with a value of $250 or lessAnyoneImprisonment in jail for up to 1 year, or a fine of up to $300
Trade secretAnyoneImprisonment in state prison for up to 5 years, or a fine of up to $25,000 and imprisonment in jail for up to 2 years
Property with a value of more than $250Disabled person or a person 60 years old or olderImprisonment in state prison for up to 10 years, or imprisonment in the house of correction for up to 2.5 years, or a fine of up to $50,000, or both imprisonment and the fine; court may also order restitution to be paid to the victim
Property with a value of $250 or lessDisabled person or a person 60 years old or olderImprisonment in the house of correction for up to 2.5 years, or a fine of up to $1,000, or both; court may also order restitution to be paid to the victim
Any propertyCommon carrier or person carrying on an express business (i.e., post office, FedEx, etc.)First offense – Imprisonment for 6 months to 2.5 years, or a fine of $50 to $600, or both
Subsequent offenses – Imprisonment for 18 months to 2.5 years, or a fine of $150 to $600, or both
Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer 617 263 6800

Larceny charges can have serious criminal repercussions. If you or someone you know faces larceny charges, contact the Law Offices of Stephen Neyman, P.C. Attorney Neyman has nearly thirty years of experience in defending clients who have been charged with larceny. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation at 617-263-6800 or online.

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