About Shoplifting Charges for Merchandise Over or Under $250 Dollars

Generally speaking, there are two forms of shoplifting:

  • Shoplifting merchandise with a value under $100; and
  • Shoplifting merchandise with a value over $100.

The penalties for shoplifting depend on the value of the merchandise stolen:

  • If the total value of the merchandise is less than $100, a first-time offender is subject to a $250 fine, a second-time offender a $500 fine and a third-time offender faces a fine and or imprisonment in a jail for not more than two years.
  • If the value of the goods stolen is more than $100, the penalties are more serious: up to 30 months in jail and a $1,000 fine, even for a first-time offender.

Shoplifting by Concealing Merchandise

The shoplifting by concealing statute means that you don’t need to take the merchandise out of the store in order to be found guilty of a shoplifting crime. All the prosecutor has to show is that the defendant removed the merchandise from the display or shelf and concealed it. This is form of shoplifting can be difficult to charge especially in the case in self-service stores where people remove merchandise from displays or shelves and walk with them while they continue shopping. To get this charge to stick the prosecutor will have to show that there was some form of concealment that indicated the defendant did not intend to pay for the merchandise. Putting merchandise in a shoe or sock or placing it in the inside pocket of a coat usually indicates an intention to take the merchandise without paying for it.

Shoplifting by Switching Price Tag

Anyone who knowingly and intentionally carries away merchandise on sale from a store/merchant with intention of taking possession of that merchandise without paying for the merchandise will be found guilty if shoplifting by switching price tag.

In order to prove the defendant guilty of shoplifting by switching price tag, the prosecution must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt …

Shoplifting by Asportation

Shoplifting is a misdemeanor crime. As a practical matter, Police in Massachusetts have limited powers to arrest someone for a misdemeanor crime that wasn’t committed in their presence. Generally speaking, a police officer can only arrest someone for shoplifting if he has probable cause to believe the person has committed the offense of shoplifting. If an employee or business owner shows the police officer video footage from surveillance cameras that shows someone shoplifting then the officer has probable cause to arrest that individual. However, police officers and surveillance cameras can not witness every crime. In these situations the police wont arrest the individual but instead will apply for a complaint at the local district. The person accused in the complaint of shoplifting will receive a notice to appear for a clerk magistrates hearing or show cause hearing. To read more about our clerks hearing defense visit our page on clerk hearings.