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Massachusetts Embezzlement Laws

Embezzlement falls under the general category of larceny or theft. The reason embezzlement is its own crime is because it occurs when someone steals property or money while they're in a position of responsibility over the money or property. For example, if a banker took money from various accounts held at the bank, it would be considered embezzlement. Since this has specific elements that aren't necessary to commit theft, most states - including Massachusetts - address embezzlement in separate statutes.

Massachusetts has a variety of statutes that address embezzlement, which are separated by the circumstances surrounding the embezzlement. For example, embezzling property at a fire is addressed in its own statute while embezzlement by brokers, banks employees, or city officers are all addressed separately. It's important to be aware that the details surrounding the embezzlement are what determine which statute is violated, which in turn determines the possible penalties.

Massachusetts Embezzlement Laws at a Glance

If you're looking for answers to a question about the law, the best source of information is usually the statute itself. But, many times the language of the statute is in "legalese," which can take more time to decipher than you'd like to spend. That's why it can also be helpful to read a summary of the law without the legal jargon. In the following chart, you'll find a summary of the key provisions of embezzlement laws in Massachusetts, as well as links to the relevant statutes.


Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 266:

  • Section 23 (Embezzlement at Fire)
  • Section 50 (Embezzlement of State Treasury Employee)
  • Section 51 (Embezzlement by City, Town or County Officer)
  • Section 52 (Embezzlement by Bank Officers and Employees)
  • Section 55 (Embezzlement by Liquidating Agent or Receiver)
  • Section 56 (Embezzlement by Brokers or Agents)
  • Section 57 (Embezzlement by Fiduciaries)
  • Section 58 (Larceny: Embezzlement from Voluntary Association)
  • Section 59 (Simple Larceny: Embezzlement from Voluntary Association)
Elements of Embezzlement

In order to be convicted of embezzlement, it must be proven that the defendant:

  • Was in a position of trust and given possession of the personal property/money;
  • Took the property for their own use without the property owner's consent; and
  • Did this with the intention of permanently depriving the owner of the property.

The penalties for violating Massachusetts embezzlement laws will vary depending on the specific statute that's violated. However, some statutes are punished as a larceny with the following penalties:

  • If the value of the stolen property is over $250 dollars, it's punishable by up to five years in prison OR a fine of up to $25,000 and up to two years in jail.
  • If the value of the stolen property is $250 or less, it's punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine up to $300.
Related Statute(s)

Massachusetts General Laws, Part IV, Title I, Chapter 266:

  • Section 30 (Larceny: General Provisions and Penalties)
  • Section 53 (Prosecution of Bank Officers or Employees for Embezzlement)
  • Section 53A (Bank Officers or Employees: Misconduct)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Embezzlement Laws: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please click on the links below.

Charged With Embezzlement in Massachusetts? Get Legal Help

A conviction for violating Massachusetts embezzlement laws can have a lasting negative impact on your life and, depending on the statute, can lead to several years behind bars. For this reason, it's best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you're facing charges. An attorney can evaluate the prosecution's case against you, if one even exists, and can aid in your defense, including possibly negotiating a plea deal.

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