Shoplifting Defense

Why Hire A Lawyer If You Are Charged With Shoplifting?

Often times a person is summonsed to court in the event it is determined that he or she has committed the crime of shoplifting. If you or a family member is summonsed for a clerk’s or a magistrate’s hearing, it is important that you contact an attorney. There are many avenues that can be pursued in an attempt to avoid the issuance of a criminal complaint for shoplifting. The avoidance of the issuance of a criminal complaint and an arraignment on this criminal offense will avoid having this charge entered on a criminal history check.


If the retail value of the merchandise obtained is less than one hundred dollars, a first offender can be punished by a fine not to exceed $250.00. A second offense is punishable by a fine of not less than $100.00 nor more than $500.00. A third or subsequent offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $500.00 or imprisonment in a jail for not more than two years. If the value of the goods exceeds one hundred dollars, then a person faces a fine of not more than $1000.00 or jail for up to two and one half years.

Hire The attorney To Win Your Case

The attorney has obtained great results for clients at clerk’s hearings and after a complaint has issued.

Locations That Are On High Alert For Shoplifters

Courts that are located in areas near malls or shopping centers are hot spots for prosecuting these types of crimes. For example, the Boston Municipal Courthouse located near downtown Boston, the Peabody District Court located near the North Shore Mall and the Somerville District Court located across from a shopping plaza litigate these types of cases on a regular basis.

Peabody District Court litigates a number of shoplifting cases because the North Shore Mall is within its jurisdiction. This mall has a large number of stores including Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Forever Twenty-One, American Eagle Outfitters and Hollister. In most situations, when a shopper is suspected of shoplifting he or she is summonsed to court for a clerk’s hearing. The Peabody District Court is located at One Lowell Street, Peabody, MA.

Often times large department stores or superstores have a separate department that focuses on store security. Typically, there are individuals employed by the store that act as “security guards” and are on the lookout for individuals that they believe are shoplifting, i.e., stealing merchandise, changing price tags or ringing up incorrect prices for merchandise. In the event that an individual is believed to be shoplifting, this “security guard” will approach the individual and often question the person about the suspicious behavior.

Elements Of The Crime Of Shoplifting

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 section 30A provides the elements and penalties for shoplifting. In short, the taking of store merchandise from store owner, either alone or with another person is shoplifting. Simply stated, shoplifting is the intentional taking of property from a store without paying for it.

Manners Of Committing The Crime Of Shoplifting

A defendant can be found guilty of this offense if he or she engages in the above-described conduct by taking the item directly or by switching a price tag. Another theory is when an individual intentionally rings up the wrong price for an item in the store.

Questioning By Store Security

Once a person is approached relative to an alleged shoplifting, the store security personnel usually takes the person to a room to be questioned. In the event that there is more than one person involved in the incident, the parties are often separated and questioned in separate rooms.

It is important to remember that in Massachusetts the police, or anyone acting on behalf of the government or police, must read a suspect their “Miranda Rights” prior to questioning. Simply stated, “Miranda Rights” are the rights to have a lawyer and the right to remain silent. “Miranda Rights” are not required in every situation. Both state and federal law require that “Miranda Rights” must be given to an individual when the police questions him or her and when he or she is in custody. So, if the questioning is not done by the police or a police agency and a person is NOT in custody, i.e., he or she is free to leave, then “Miranda Rights” are not required.


In the event someone is charged with shoplifting and did make incriminating statements to the authorities, an experienced criminal defense attorney will file a motion to suppress the statement based on a violation of state and federal constitutional rights. It is important to realize that even if this motion is successful it means the suppression of the statement, NOT the dismissal of the case. Of course, if the government is unable to prove its case without the statement, the case will likely be dismissed.