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What should I know about shoplifting in Massachusetts?

Going into a business and taking merchandise without paying for it is considered shoplifting; however, that isn't the only action that might lead to a shoplifting charge. You can also be charged with shoplifting if you change the price of an item, which could be possible if you move a price sticker from one item to another. Taking a shopping cart from a store is another form of shoplifting. Massachusetts law has set specific laws regarding shoplifting.

Is a warrant required for a shoplifting arrest?

Law enforcement officers don't need an arrest warrant to arrest an alleged shoplifter. Instead, all that is necessary is probable cause. This can come from a statement from a store employee or agent regarding the shoplifting. Surveillance footage can also be used to meet the probable cause requirement for an arrest. If you are arrested on a shoplifting charge, you should ensure you utilize the rights afforded to you in the United States Constitution. These rights include your right to remain silent and your right to contact an attorney.

What are the penalties for shoplifting convictions?

In Massachusetts, the value of the merchandise and any prior shoplifting convictions are considered when determining the penalty. For merchandise that is equal to or greater than $100, the penalty for a conviction is up to two years and six months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or a combination of both. When the merchandise is valued at under $100, the penalties are tiered. A first offense would include a fine of up to $500. A second offense is a fine of $100 to $500. A third offense is a fine up to $500, up to two years imprisonment, or a combination of both.

Source: FindLaw, "Shoplifting," accessed April 25, 2016

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