• Michael Thaler, Esq

What are the different types of Larceny over $1200 in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, there are several different types of larceny. The most common is where the Commonwealth alleges that property was simply stolen. Other varieties include larceny by single scheme, larceny by check, larceny by embezzlement, larceny by false pretenses, larceny from a person, larceny from a building, larceny of a motor vehicle, and larceny of a firearm. The most basic question is what is simple larceny? In order to prove someone guilty of a simple larceny, the Commonwealth must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt:


  1. That the defendant took and carried away property;

  2. That the property was owned or possessed by someone other than the defendant; and

  3. That the defendant did so with the intent to deprive that person of the property permanently.


The monetary amount is what can turn a simple larceny into a felony. If the property is worth more than $1200, then in Massachusetts it is larceny over $1200. In other states, this might be referred to as grand larceny because larceny over $1200 in Massachusetts is a felony. Click Here to learn about the distinction between a felony and a misdemeanor. In addition, if the stolen item is a firearm, then it is a felony as well regardless of the value of the firearm. In Massachusetts, larceny over $1200 can have serious adverse effects both because it is a felony and because it is a deportable offense.

The most commonly charged larceny in Massachusetts is simple larceny. This is because it is the most often occurring and the easiest to prove by the Commonwealth. Unless the property stolen is obviously of a value under $1200, then the government is likely to charge larceny over $1200 in Massachusetts. This is because the District Attorney’s Office then has leverage in amending the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor as part of a plea and because the charge will automatically become larceny under $1200 if the government cannot prove that the value is over $1200.

The other types of larceny over 1200 in Massachusetts all require that the government prove additional elements beyond a reasonable doubt to substantiate the charge. This can make it harder for the government to prove the case because they have at least one additional element that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But in some cases, it still makes sense for the government to charge the more complicated forms of larceny in Massachusetts. A good example of this is with larceny over $1200 by single scheme. For larceny by single scheme, the government generally alleges that property was stolen between two dates pursuant to a single scheme. The additional element for larceny by single scheme that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt is “that during that period of time the defendant acted out of a single, continuing intent to steal; that even though time elapsed between incidents, they were not separately motivated but were part of one general scheme or plan to steal.” So rather than charging multiple counts of simple larceny for each date property was allegedly stolen, the Commonwealth might just allege a single count of larceny by single scheme, incorporating all of the dates. One of the reasons the Commonwealth might do this is because it allows for the total value of the property during the single scheme to be cumulatively considered in determining whether the value is over $1200.

Some of the other forms of larceny have more complicated elements, though they all have the same basic premise as a simple larceny – the intentional taking of another’s property. For example, below are additional types of larceny and the corresponding elements that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Larceny by check

  1. That the defendant wrote a check, cashed a check drawn, passed a check drawn, or delivered a check drawn upon an account at the Bank;

  2. That by doing so the defendant obtained money, property or services;

  3. That when the defendant wrote, cashed, passed, or delivered the check, he or she knew that he or she, the person who wrote the check, did not have sufficient funds or credit at the bank on which the check was drawn to cover the check; and

  4. That the defendant did so with the intent to defraud the bank or someone who received the check.


Larceny by embezzlement

  1. That the defendant, while in a position of trust or confidence, was entrusted with possession of personal property belonging to another person or entity;

  2. That the defendant took that property, or hid it, or converted it to his or her own use, without the consent of the owner; and

  3. That the defendant did so with the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently.

Larceny by false pretenses

  1. That the defendant made a false statement of fact;

  2. That the defendant knew or believed that the statement was false when he or she made it;

  3. That the defendant made the statement with the intent that the person to whom it was made should rely on it as true;

  4. That such person did in fact rely on the defendant’s statement as true; and

  5. That such person parted with personal property as a result.

Larceny from a person

  1. That the defendant took and carried away property;

  2. That the property was owned or possessed by someone other than the defendant;

  3. That the defendant took the property from the person of someone who owned or possessed it, or from such a person’s area of control in his or her presence; and

  4. That the defendant did so with the intent to deprive that person of the property permanently.

Larceny from a building

  1. That the defendant took and carried away property;

  2. That at the time the property was being kept safe by virtue of being in a building;

  3. That the property belonged to someone other than the defendant; and

  4. That the defendant took the property with the intent to deprive the owner of it permanently.

Larceny of leased or rented personal property

  1. That the defendant leased or rented some personal property;

  2. That the defendant concealed some or all of that property, aided or abetted in concealing some or all of that property, failed or refused to return such property to its owner within 10 days after the lease or rental agreement had expired, or sold, conveyed or pledged some or all of that property without the written consent of its owner; and

  3. That the defendant did so with the intention to place such property beyond the control of its owner.

Larceny of a motor vehicle

  1. That the defendant took the motor vehicle;

  2. That the motor vehicle was owned or possessed by someone other than the defendant; and

  3. That the defendant did so with the intent to deprive that person of the motor vehicle permanently.

If you are charged with any form of larceny in Massachusetts, it is important to hire an experienced larceny lawyer who has handled larceny over $1200 cases in the courts of Massachusetts. Attorney Michael Thaler has handled larceny cases throughout Massachusetts, including in the Boston and Dedham areas. Reach out to Attorney Thaler at 781-366-0806 or mike@thaler.law to schedule a free consultation to discuss your specific situation.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.