Petty Larceny (Larceny Under $250)

Petit larceny (“petty larceny”) is typically charged as a misdemeanor. Larceny is considered petty larceny when the value of the stolen property is less than $250.

Petty larceny is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 266 Section 30. The law provides:

“whoever steals, or with intent to defraud obtains by a false pretence, or whoever unlawfully, and with intent to steal or embezzle, converts, or secretes with intent to convert, the property of another as defined in this section, whether such property is or is not in his possession at the time of such conversion or secreting, shall be guilty of larceny…”

In simpler terms, the larceny statute in Massachusetts covers three different common law crimes: (1) larceny, (2) embezzlement, and (3) false pretenses.

  1. Larceny is the trespassory taking and carrying away of the property of another person with the intent to steal. “Trespassory” means without right. “Property” includes money, notes, bonds, deeds, receipts, contracts, electronic data, pets, and more. In short, it includes much more than what the word “property” typically conjures. “Intent to steal” means the intent to deprive the other person of the property permanently.
  2. Embezzlement is the fraudulent taking of property with which one has been entrusted. The key difference between embezzlement and larceny is the way in which the criminal came to possess the property. With larceny, the taking is without right. In contrast, embezzlement involves a taking by a person who already had rightful possession of the property.
  3. Obtaining property by false pretenses is the crime of knowingly gaining title to someone else’s property by misrepresentation. It requires the intent to defraud.


Petty larceny is punishable by up to one year in jail or by a fine of up to $300.

Speak With an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today at 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199

Although petty larceny is usually charged as a misdemeanor, it is still vital to speak with a defense attorney when charged with this crime. A good lawyer will often be able to resolve the matter without going to trial. If you have been charged with larceny or any other crime in Massachusetts, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Altman & Altman LLP at 617.492.3000 or 800.481.6199 toll-free, or contact us online for a free consultation. We are available around 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

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