Boston has a sordid history with theft crimes as it is home to the largest property crime in U.S. history and the biggest art heist in the world. In 1990, two men disguised themselves as police officers responding to a disturbance and managed to convince the security officers guarding Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to let them inside. The thieves handcuffed the security officers and spent 81 minutes selecting 13 art pieces to steal. The art pieces, which include rare Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer works, are valued at approximately $500 million. The two thieves took the surveillance videos and fled—never to be heard from again. That is until March of 2013, on the 23rd anniversary of the huge art heist, when the FBI announced that it believes it knows who was responsible for the thefts. The news came with a catch, however—the FBI did not announce the names of the thieves and stated that the statute of limitations had passed so none of the art thieves would be charged. The FBI is still actively searching for the long missing art pieces and has offered a $5 million reward for those provide information leading to the recovery of the pieces.
The Gardner Museum heist is an exception to most thefts in Massachusetts for numerous reasons. First, the scale of the heist was incredibly large and record setting. Second, the thieves were never apprehended, even given the magnitude of the crime. Most Massachusetts thefts are not so mysterious and world famous, but each presents a unique set of challenges for defense attorneys and carry serious consequences for charged offenders. Every Massachusetts theft case requires zealous representation to ensure the defendant achieves the best possible legal outcome. The term “theft crime” is rather broad and encompasses numerous Massachusetts crimes. Below is a closer look at Massachusetts theft crimes and what you can do to defend yourself against a theft charge.What is a Theft Crime in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts lumps a number of different theft crimes into the broad category titled, “larceny,” with several different sub-categories of larcenies. The general crime of larceny is set out in Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30. Larceny or theft is broadly defined as the taking of property belonging to another without their consent and with the intent to deprive permanently. The circumstances of the theft along with the value of the property taken will determine what specific larceny crime is charged.
Theft crimes can be divided into two general categories: misdemeanors and felonies. When the property stolen is value at less than $250, an individual will be charged with petty larceny, which is a misdemeanor offense. The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is 1 year imprisonment and a fine of up to $300.
If the value of the property exceeds $250, the larceny charge will be a felony, punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. If, however, you are charged with a sub-category crime falling under the larceny umbrella such as larceny of a motor vehicle, you will face far more time. A conviction for larceny of a motor vehicle is punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment.
Larceny laws in Massachusetts are complex and require a knowledge criminal defense attorney to sort through and analyze. Some of the most commonly charged theft crimes falling under the larceny umbrella are:
- Larceny by Stealing
- Larceny by Stealing From the Person
- Larceny by Stealing in a Building
- Larceny by Check
- Larceny of Leased or Rented Property
- Larceny by Embezzlement
- Buying or Receiving Stolen Goods
- Larceny of a Motor Vehicle
- Credit Card Fraud
- Identity Fraud
If you have been charged with the crime of larceny or any of the crimes falling under this general label, you are facing a serious charge with the potential for lifelong consequences. A felony or even a misdemeanor conviction can impact your employment and your liberty.
There are numerous defenses you can raise against a charge of larceny. Your specific defense will depend upon the facts of your case, and can only be determined with the help of a knowledgeable defense attorney. Here is a list of some possible defenses you could raise:
- Lack of intent to deprive permanently—the crime of theft is a specific intent crime, requiring the prosecution prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you took the property of another with the intent to deprive permanently. Often, individuals charged with theft may merely have been borrowing the property and lack the requisite intent. Absent specific intent, you cannot be convicted of larceny.
- The owner consented—in order to be convicted of larceny, the state must prove you took the property of another without their consent. One defense is to show that the owner of the property in fact gave or lent the property to you.
- Mere presence—you could argue that you did not actually partake in the theft, but were merely present while it occurred. Without a showing that you intend the theft to occur, you cannot be found guilty for being merely present at the scene of the crime.
- Mistaken identity—if the theft involves accusations from a stranger and victim identifications, you can argue raise the defense of mistaken identity, urging that while a theft occurred, you are not the thief. This is particularly of use where the item was not recovered from your person.
If you have been charged with a larceny crime, your freedom and livelihood depend upon securing excellent, experienced representation by a Boston theft defense attorney. The Law Offices of Stephen Neyman has represented individuals charged with all manner of larceny crimes for over 20 years. Our knowledgeable team of defense attorneys will provide you with effective, zealous representation right from the start. We will thoroughly investigate the charges against you, interviewing witness and subpoenaing evidence. We will challenge the prosecutor’s case every step of the way. Above all, we will fight tirelessly for you to achieve the best legal outcome. Call Stephen Neyman’s team of skilled Massachusetts theft defense attorneys today at (617) 263-6800.
Si usted habla espanol contacta a nuestro asistente de abogado Maria Rivera en 617-877-6270.
Felony Charge of Forgery and Larceny Over $1,200 Against College Student to be Dismissed
The defendant is a college student from out of state. She was involved in a sophisticated theft operation involving cell phones. She and others had accessed a database revealing the names and cell phone numbers of subscribers to a particular cell phone company. The defendant was also able to access their account numbers and other significant identifying information through this database. With that information she went to various Apple stores throughout the northeast where she would get new phones and charge them to the accounts that she had infiltrated. She would then sell the phones. A Massachusetts Apple store manager became suspicious when the woman tried this scam not knowing that the actual subscriber had just made a purchase at another Apple store. The police were called and the investigation led to charges of larceny over $1,200 G.L. c. 266 section 30 and forgery under G.L. c. 267 section 1. Both crimes are felonies in Massachusetts. The woman was also charged with misdemeanors. Specifically identity fraud G.L. c. 266 section 37 and receiving stolen property under $1,200 in violation of G.L. c. 266 section 60. All charges were continued without a finding without conditions. The case will be dismissed in a few months.
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Complaint Against Non-Citizen Nurse Of Receiving Stolen Property Does Not Issue After Clerk Magistrate Hearing
The defendant is a non-citizen nurse. She works at nursing homes taking care of elderly people with dementia. In January a pawn shop owner called the police when our client tried to sell him some jewelry that had very personal engravings on them. He suspected that the items may have been stolen. The police were able to track the items to someone who identified them as belonging to his mother, an eighty-eight year old woman living in a nursing home with dementia. The police obtained our client's name from the nursing home and got her driver's license photo to show to the pawn shop owner. He made a positive identification of our client. Detectives learned from the victim that our client had stolen the items from her. A summons for a clerk magistrate hearing charging receiving stolen property under G.L. c. 266 Section 60 issued. Attorney Neyman was hired. Today, after a clerk's hearing we were able to convince the clerk magistrate not to issue the complaint.
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Larceny Over $1,200 Dismissed After Clerk Magistrate Hearing
The defendant is a non-citizen professional. He is married with two children and holds a doctorate in electrical engineering. In December he was at a high end supermarket that sells alcohol. He purchased some items at the self service kiosk and concealed over $1,200 in alcohol making the crime a felony. He was charged with violating G.L. c. 266 Section 30. Today, Attorney Neyman was able to convince the clerk magistrate to hold the complaint. If the defendant remains free from criminal legal trouble the case will be dismissed in six months. This will have no impact on any citizenship applications and will not be on his CORI.
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