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Fraud/ Theft/ Crimes Against Property
In Massachusetts, "crimes against property" are governed by MGL c. 266. Offenses under this statute are wide-ranging, from relatively minor misdemeanor shoplifting charges to major felonies such as armed burglary.
To be convicted under this chapter, the prosecution must always prove intent. You cannot be convicted of larceny, for example, if you accidentally came into possession of someone else's property. The level of intent, however, varies among the different offenses under c. 266. While most statutes under this chapter require that you intentionally or knowingly attempt to take, harm, or misuse someone else's property, certain statutes only require that you do so "wantonly", which basically means that you were careless or reckless and caused injury to someone else's property. For example, if you damage someone's property by acting recklessly and disregarding the risk of damage, you can be sentenced to up to 2 1/2 years in jail.
For most misdemeanor offenses under this chapter, unless the offense took place in the presence of a police officer, you are entitled to a clerk's hearing before a criminal complaint can issue. There is an exception under the shoplifting statute, which allows a police officer to make an arrest based on probable cause. The statement of a store clerk is enough for the officer to make an arrest, although many officers will usually still only issue a an citation to the suspect and apply to the clerk for a criminal complaint.
Some of the more serious felony charges under c. 266 carry mandatory minimum state prison sentences. You are NOT entitled to be present at a clerk's hearing before a criminal implant issues on a felony charge. These charges also bring about many complex and technical legal issues. Even before proving intent to commit a crime, the prosecution first must establish probable cause to believe you are the perpetrator of the crime. For example, if you are charged with Breaking and Entering, and the only evidence that you committed the offense is the victim's neighbor who identified you, we will investigate the method by which that identification was made. Many times, the police use improper techniques to suggest a specific perpetrator to help the witness make an identification. Or, perhaps your DNA was allegedly found in the home or building where the crime took place. In order for this evidence to be admissible in court, very specific procedures and legal principles must be followed. Whatever evidence the prosecution claims to have against you, we will thoroughly examine, analyze, and find any defects in that evidence, or any violations of your constitutional rights, to have that evidence excluded before it ever reaches the courtroom.
Massachusetts crimes giants the property also include "white collar crimes." One of the most common white collar crime is embezzlement. This is basically the same charged as larceny, except that you were legally in possession of the money or property and are now being accused of taking it from the business. This charge can arise in a variety of situations; a store clerk who sneaks a few bucks from the register, a CEO who improperly diverts funds, or an employee with the state treasury who faces up to life in prison for embezzlement. Whatever the situation, this charge can be very paper-heavy, and we will investigate all paper trails to find discrepancies and cast doubt on the prosecution's case. Very often, this charge arises out of a simple misunderstanding. It is important that you contact our office mediately for your free initial consultation so that we can get started on reviewing your case.
If you have been charged with theft, fraud, or a crime against the property in Massachusetts, contact our office for your free initial consultation: