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Criminal Justice Reform Bill: Effects on Theft Offenses
On April 13, 2018, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a new bill that made a number of important changes to the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System. The Attorneys at Coughlin Law Group paid close attention in order to best serve our clients. Some of these changes relate to larceny and theft offenses. If you are charged with a theft offense, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in Massachusetts.
New Threshold Amounts for Felonies
The most significant change in the new law relates to the dollar amounts that are required for a theft offense to be a felony charge. In the past, once the value of stolen property exceeded $250, the theft crime was categorized as a felony. Under the new law, the value of the property must exceed $1,200 for a larceny charge to be considered a felony. Similarly, the threshold amount for a charge of receipt of stolen property to be a felony has also increased from $250 to $1,200.
Additionally, the value of stolen property from a retailer for a theft to qualify as shoplifting has increased from $100 to $250. To navigate the changing requirements of crimes related to theft offenses, you should contact a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney today.
Arrests without a Warrant
An additional change in the law now allows law enforcement officers to make an arrest for larceny crimes without a warrant if the stolen property exceeds $250, as long as they have probable cause to believe a crime was committed. As such, it is now easier for a police officer to arrest someone for a suspected theft, without requiring a magistrate to issue an arrest warrant. If you were arrested for a larceny crime, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to discuss the potential outcomes, and obtain representation.
Credit Card and Identity Theft
The laws relating to credit card and identity theft have changed dramatically under the Criminal Justice Reform Bill. To begin with, the definition of a credit card has expanded to include not only the physical card, but all of its related information.
As with other larceny charges, the threshold amount for a charge of credit card misuse or fraud to be felony has been raised from $250 to $1,200.
Additionally, if one is convicted of credit card misuse, they can be fined up to $2,500, a drastic increase from the previous maximum amount of $500. Even more drastic is that the fine for credit fraud, previously capped at $2,000, is now be up to $10,000. The use of specialized tools to steal a person’s identity can result in a fine of up to $5,000 and up to two and a half years in prison. These are serious consequences, so it is important to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately if you are accused of credit card theft.