Grand Larceny Vs. Grand Theft Sentencing

Grand larceny and grand theft in Massachusetts are often considered the same thing, but there are some crucial differences to understand. The statute covering larceny in this state is under General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30.

Grand larceny is a type of theft where the property of another person is taken, and it is moved to another location. The intent is to take ownership of that property without the owner’s permission. Grand theft, on the other hand, refers to taking of property. Grand theft can consist of many crimes, including robberies, burglaries, or larceny. It is important to remember that all larcenies are a type of theft but not all thefts are larcenies.

To understand this better, consider these examples:

  • Grand larceny involves crimes such as shoplifting, stealing a vehicle from a garage, or taking cash from a cash register at a grocery story.
  • Grand theft can include crimes such as stealing electronics by breaking into someone’s home, stealing a truck from a person who is in the vehicle at the time, credit card theft, buying and receiving stolen property and ID theft.

The theft of the property of another person can become grand theft or grand larceny once the value of the stolen property is more than $250. This makes the crime a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

Massachusetts Grand Larceny and Grand Theft Conviction

To be convicted of grand theft or grand larceny in Massachusetts must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You took the personal property of another person.
  • The property was taken against the will of the other without their permission
  • You intended to steal the property

If the charge is grand theft or grand larceny, the prosecution must also prove the value of the property was more than $250.

Massachusetts Grand Larceny and Grand Theft Laws and Penalties

Grand larceny and grand theft are felonies in Massachusetts. If you have a criminal history, you could receive anywhere from 12 to 90 months in state prison. However, grand theft can involve more dangerous crimes because personal conflict and contact is usually involved. Therefore, grand theft can involve harsher prison sentences and bigger fines. Most grand larcenies do not involve personal conflict with the victim, so the sentence may be less severe.

Massachusetts theft laws also consider the type of property that was taken. If the stolen item was a gun, it is considered grand theft and can be punished by up to five years in state prison, regardless of the value of the gun. If it is a vehicle that is stolen, it is grand theft auto and you can get up to 15 years in prison. Another factor under state law is the victim. If he or she is 65 or older, you will receive up to five years in prison.

Identity theft is a form of theft, and depending upon the amounts involved, you can receive up to 2.5 years in jail and pay a fine of $5000. Receiving stolen property is also theft and the punishment depends upon the value of the property. If it is worth less than $250, it is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 2.5 years in jail. If it is more than $250, it is a felony and the punishment is up to five years in prison.

Bail for Grand Larceny and Theft in Massachusetts

For felony charges of larceny and theft, bail amounts can be up to $20,000 in many cases.

Legal Defenses to Theft Crimes in Massachusetts

As with most felony crimes, a rugged defense depends upon disproving the case being presented by the state prosecutor. Defense counsel can look for possible discrepancies in witness testimony and evidence and determine if these can lead to a case being dismissed. Whether you are charged with grand larceny or grand theft, below are some other common defenses that can be effective, depending upon case circumstances:

  • Claim of ownership. If you can prove that you thought the property belonged to you or you had a valid claim to the property, you may be acquitted.
  • If you can prove you were intoxicated on alcohol or drugs and did not have intent to take the property, this also can be a valid defense.
  • Property was returned. Returning the property after it was taken is not a valid defense. But if you intended to return the property because you thought you were borrowing it, this is a valid defense.
  • If the idea or action to steal the property came from a person who was trying to entrap you, this could be a defense.

Statute of Limitations

According to Mass Gen Laws 277.63, most forms of theft and larceny have a six year statute of limitations for charges to be filed, including receiving stolen property. Robbery has a statute of limitations of 10 years.

MA Larceny and Theft Cases

  • Massachusetts Police Captain Indicted -- A police captain in West Springfield has been indicted after he allegedly stole more than $1000 from an evidence room. Daniel Spaulding was charged with using an official position to obtain unwarranted privilege. Police say he took the money from the evidence room in May 2017.
  • Woman Accused of Grand Theft for Stealing From Car Dealership -- A woman from Massachusetts who was convicted for stealing from a car dealership has been accused of stealing $630,000 from another car dealer. The woman, 50 year old Christien Atwood-Calverley stands accused of writing checks to herself at Nissan in Bourne MA where she worked as an office manager. She has pleaded not guilty to a charge of larceny.
  • Former Regional Transportation Authority Cashier Pleads Guilty to $75,000 Theft -- A woman in Lawrence, MA has been convicted for stealing money from a regional transportation authority and will start a one year jail sentence next month. Isabel Soto, 45, pleaded guilty to the crime of larceny by a single scheme in a hearing in Lawrence District Court.
  • Worcester MA Man Held on ID Theft Charges Wanted for $3.6 Million Food Stamp Fraud -- A man in Worcester was ordered to be detained by a federal judge last week after police say they found evidence of ID theft and dozens of boxes of expensive merchandise in his apartment. He also is suspected in a major food stamp fraud crime that occurred at his place of employment several years ago.
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