Theft and Shoplifting


In Maryland, theft is defined as 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. Passing bad checks (uttering) is also included in the Maryland statute. Theft is divided up into several different categories in Maryland depending on the value of the goods that were allegedly stolen.

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.

Misdemeanor Theft
Theft of goods under $1,000 is a misdemeanor crime in Maryland. The maximum penalty is 18 months in jail, unless the theft is under $100 in which the maximum is only 90 days.

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. 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 exculpatory video caught by the store’s cameras, 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 with negotiating deals with the prosecution where my clients take a theft diversion class or complete community service in order to avoid having a conviction.

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 my office for a complimentary consultation at 301-875-3472 today to speak about your theft case.