Larceny by Stealing in a Building

The crime of larceny is a common offense in Massachusetts. The term larceny refers to the theft or taking of another’s property. However, unlike larceny offenses under G.L. c. 266, s. 30, the value of the property stolen is irrelevant to the punishment, as any offense is considered a felony as established in Commonwealth v. Graham. Larceny and property theft crimes, especially when the crime takes place on another person’s property, are treated very seriously in Massachusetts and a conviction can have long lasting repercussions. In order for this particular law to apply, the stolen property must be taken from the possession of a building, ship, vessel, or railroad car rather from the watchful eye of people who might be present in the building (such as employees). Interestingly enough though, shoplifting from a retail store does not constitute the offense of larceny from a building. For the purposes of this crime, property can mean personal property, money, notes, data, domesticated animals, and more. However, a quick-witted Massachusetts defense lawyer can often challenge and win cases involving larceny. It is important for clients faced with a larceny charge to take the first step and get legal advice from an experienced Massachusetts theft crimes lawyer before proceeding in any way.

Penalties Under the Law

Massachusetts G. L. c. 266, s. 20 provides that anyone who steals in a building, ship, vessel or railroad car shall be in violation under this section. If the offender is found guilty, he or she is punishable by the following:

  • Imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years, or
  • Imprisonment in jail for not more than 2 years, or
  • A fine not to exceed $500.

In order to be convicted of larceny by stealing in a building, the prosecution must prove the following four elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The defendant took property and carried it away. This simply means that the property was moved from the place where it was kept. This element can be satisfied even if the movement was slight or short lived.
  2. That property, by being in a building, was being kept safe. A building, ship, vessel or railroad car must protect the property rather than a person.
  3. The property belonged to a person other than the defendant. The government does not have to establish the identity of the person who owned the property as long as it can prove that the defendant did not own the property. An owner of property can be anyone who has actual or constructive possession; and
  4. The defendant intended to deprive the owner of the property permanently.
Vigilant Massachusetts Theft Crimes Defense Attorney

Have you been charged with larceny, theft, shoplifting, robbery, or embezzlement? If you have been arrested for a theft or property offense, a skilled defense attorney with specialized knowledge in the field of theft crimes will battle for you at trial to win your case. At the Law Office of Patrick J. Murphy, we provide experienced and aggressive representation on behalf of clients throughout Boston and the surrounding suburbs. During our 18-year practice in Massachusetts, we have represented individuals from all walks of life facing misdemeanor and felony theft charges. Contact us directly through our website, or call our law office located in downtown Boston at (617) 367-0450.

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