Massachusetts is one of the few states that imposes serious criminal charges when a person steals an item worth more than $250. Stealing an item valued at more than $250 is a felony theft under Massachusetts law. The consequence of this is that people who commit relatively minor offenses of theft are subject to incredibly harsh punishments.
The Massachusetts state senate is considering a bill that would revise the state’s theft laws to increase the monetary value threshold for a stolen item in a felony theft charge to $1500, according to a recent article in the Boston Globe. The adjustment would place Massachusetts on equal footing with other states that have higher monetary value theft limits for felony charges.
Proponents’ Position Concerning the Proposed Bill
The $250 value threshold was last updated in 1987, nearly 30 years ago. Proponents of the new law say that the change would better reflect changes to the cost of goods due to inflation over the last three decades. Not only that, stealing an item valued at $250 is a minor offense that can result in a felony theft charge – an overly harsh punishment in light of the crime that is committed.
Additionally, people who are convicted for these minor thefts are often faced with significant fines and jail time, along with being marked a felon, which place these individuals at an incredible disadvantage when it comes to getting their life together once they are out of prison. Getting a job becomes more difficult and these individuals struggle to make it in society, all because they were caught stealing something worth $250 or more.
Opponents’ Position Concerning the Proposed Bill.
Opponents to the bill are concerned that the bill is soft on crime and enables criminals to get away with stealing items that are worth more for less significant punishment. Instead of helping troubled individuals, the new law would encourage criminals to target more expensive items when engaging in criminal theft.
The opponents argue that the new limit of $1500 is more than many people even earn on a weekly basis, and the law fails to take into consideration the impact that raising the felony theft monetary value limit will negatively impact victims. Victims will lose more in terms of losses if criminals know that the consequences are not very stringent.
Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Theft Defense Attorney
It is unclear how the bill will fare once it makes it pass the state Senate. In the meantime, if you or someone you love has been charged with a theft crime in Massachusetts, it is important that you get into touch with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.