Maryland Theft and Shoplifting Laws

Theft Defined in Maryland
In Maryland, theft is the willful use, concealment, or abandonment of property of another, without the owner’s consent. Maryland does not differentiate between someone who took the property and someone who received the property, so even the receiver of stolen goods can be charged with theft, provided they knew or should have known that the goods were stolen. Theft is divided up into several different categories in Maryland depending on the value of the goods that were allegedly taken.

The Value of the Property
Maryland divides up theft into different categories depending on the value of the goods that were alleged to have been taken. The first category is Theft Under $100–this is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of three months (90 days). The second category is Theft Under $1,000. This is also a misdemeanor but the maximum penalty is increased to eighteen (18) months. Technically, where the property is alleged to be greater than $100 but less than $1,000, it can be charged as Theft Under $1,000. This explains why someone who allegedly has taken some property with a value of just over $100–like $115 or $120–winds up being charged with Theft Under $1,000.

Felony Theft
Anything over $1,000 is considered a felony. If the value of the stolen goods is over $100,000, the crime is a felony which carries a maximum of 25 years in prison. Between $10,000 and $100,000, the maximum is 15 years. Between $1,000 and $10,000 the maximum is 10 years. Motor vehicle theft is also a felony which carries a maximum of 5 years.

Potential Defenses to Shoplifting
In order to prove a shoplifting case, the State must show that the defendant possessed the goods and had taken them past all points of purchase in the store. I have seen cases where the Loss Prevention Officer of the store stops a customer while in the check-out line and detains and accuses them of shoplifting–if that is the case, there may be an excellent defense to the case right there. Further, in order to convict someone at trial the State must present a witness representative of the store to prove the case–there cannot be a crime without a victim. There are other possible defenses to these cases, particularly where there may be video observable by the store’s cameras that supports the defendant’s story, or where someone is accused to be in a theft scheme with another party who was carrying the goods. Further, in a number of shoplifting cases I have been successful having clients take a theft diversion class in exchange for the charges being dismissed, complete community service in order to avoid having a conviction, or negotiate a deal to a lessor offense.

If you have been charged with any type of theft case, from a minor shoplifting up to a major robbery or burglary, its important that you speak with an attorney who knows these cases and knows how to handle them. There are a number of different defenses that can be used, depending on the circumstances. Feel free to contact the Law Offices of Christopher L. Peretti for a complimentary consultation at 301-875-3472 today to speak about your theft case.

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