Our criminal lawyers in Somerville serve those accused of crimes, or arrested on felonies or misdemeanors. Somerville is a city located in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. The most densely populated city in New England, Somerville was named “the best run city” in Massachusetts in 2006 after a period of gentrification and an influx of artists. Historically, however, the city has had a reputation for crime, particularly car theft.
Today, the city’s property crime rate continues to be significantly higher than its violent crime rate. There are anti-intellectual and other slogans spray-painted around the city. There were an estimated 1,757 property crimes last year, whereas there were only an estimated 285 violent crimes. In 2011, there were 1,178 thefts in Somerville and 415 burglaries. If you have been charged locally with a theft crime or any other offense, an experienced Somerville criminal defense attorney can determine the best defense strategy, and work to defeat the charge or get it dismissed.Theft Crimes
Under Massachusetts common law, theft used to be divided into three crimes: larceny, embezzlement, and procuring property through false pretenses. However, these were later collapsed into one statutory crime: larceny. Larceny means taking another person’s personal property without their agreement with the intent of depriving the person of ownership or use of the property. It includes crimes like shoplifting, purse snatching, forgery, and stealing money from a business.
In Massachusetts, larceny is charged as a misdemeanor when the property is worth less than $250. However, stealing something worth more than $250 may subject a person to felony charges of grand theft. Special rules apply in situations where the victim of the theft is an elderly person. For example, if a defendant has a previous theft conviction involving a victim who is 65 or older, a judge must sentence the defendant to a minimum of two years in prison.
Broadly speaking, at a larceny trial the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) property was taken by the defendant, (2) the property was owned by somebody else, and (3) that the defendant intended to deprive the owner of ownership or possession permanently. There are separate laws that govern different kinds of larceny.
Conviction for felony larceny can subject a defendant to several significant punishments, including jail time, fines, probation, and restitution. A defendant may be sentenced with a maximum of five years of imprisonment. A defendant’s sentence may be enhanced if he or she has prior criminal convictions, if an injury was caused in the commission of theft, or if a weapon was used.
The type of property stolen may also affect the punishment. For example, shoplifting a purse worth less than $100 may not be punished with jail time; instead a fine of no more than $250 is levied. On the other hand, if a defendant is charged and convicted of stealing a car, the judge may impose a sentence of no more than 15 years of imprisonment in the state prison, no more than 2 ½ years in jail or a house of correction, or a fine of no more than $15,000, or else both the fine and imprisonment. Our Somerville criminal lawyers defend the accused.
In addition to larceny, some common types of theft crimes include robbery, burglary, and receiving stolen property. These can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, depending upon the value of the property.
If you stand accused of a crime, experienced Somerville criminal defense lawyer Stephen Neyman can examine the facts of your specific situation, and help you develop a defense, whether the charges allegedly involve drugs, domestic violence, sex crimes, or violence. Contact us at (617) 263-6800 or via our online form.