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Massachusetts’ threshold for felony theft among nation’s lowest

Certain theft crime allegations can leave a person facing felony charges here in Massachusetts. In fact, the chances of being charged with a felony in relation to a theft can be particularly high here as compared to many other states. This is because of Massachusetts’ felony theft threshold laws.

One of the things that pushes a given theft into being a felony rather than a misdemeanor is if the amount stolen exceeds a certain value. Now, the states vary on where they set this value threshold. Some states have it at well over $1,000. Others have it in the low hundreds.

Massachusetts is among the states with the lowest thresholds for felony theft. Its threshold is $250. Given this, things that would be a misdemeanor theft in many other states fall under the felony level here in Massachusetts. This is significant because convictions on felony crimes can have rather harsh consequences connected to them.

In recent years, many states have increased their felony theft thresholds. Massachusetts is among the states that haven’t changed their thresholds in some time.

There have been some recent efforts to change this and to push up Massachusetts’ felony theft threshold.

There is considerable debate surrounding the idea of increasing such thresholds. Some argue that raising thresholds to account for things like inflation helps make theft laws fairer. Others argue that such increases could make the battle against shoplifting and similar crimes more difficult.

Do you think Massachusetts should raise the value level at which a theft becomes a felony crime?

As this discussion underscores, the specifics of state law have major implications on what consequences a person accused of criminal activity here in Massachusetts could face. They also impact what processes the criminal proceedings in a person’s case involve and what options they have during these processes. So, representation and guidance from an attorney with a deep knowledge of Massachusetts criminal law can be a key thing to have when facing allegations of theft or other crimes in the state.

Source: The Marshall Project, “What’s the Punishment for Theft? Depends On What State You’re In,” Marella Gayla, Aug. 9, 2017

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Patrick K. Burke, Attorney at Law
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