Experienced Bowie and Crofton Theft Crimes Defense Lawyer
Protecting the rights of clients accused of misdemeanor and felony theft
Theft is taking or possessing property that does not belong to you with the intent to keep it and deprive the owner of it. The severity of the theft charges and penalties are directly related to the value of the item taken. Theft charges range from a child shoplifting in a store to an adult stealing a car. Possession of stolen property is punishable in the same way a theft offense would be penalized.
If you are facing criminal charges for theft, Carey Law Office is here to represent you and fight for your rights in court. We offer confidential consultations to discuss your case and review your legal options when you have been accused of a crime in Maryland. Contact our office in Bowie or Crofton to learn more.
Types of Maryland theft crimes
Maryland law outlines five general categories of theft offenses:
- Unauthorized control over property: willingly or knowingly taking another person’s property and using or hiding it for your own purposes. This could include stealing money from a cash register or stealing someone’s car.
- Unauthorized control over property by deception: lying to (or otherwise deceiving) a person with the goal of obtaining their property unlawfully. This could include asking to borrow someone’s car, when you actually planned on selling that car for parts.
- Possessing stolen personal property: having in your possession goods or property that you knew (or had reason to believe) were stolen. If, for example, you are given a TV that “fell off a truck” and you kept that TV, you could be charged with possession of stolen property.
- Control over property lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake: including keeping a wallet you found on the ground, which has the owner’s ID cards inside it.
- Services available only for compensation: lying to another person to obtain services. This could include hiring a contractor to build a deck in your yard, then refusing to pay.
What are the consequences of theft charges?
Theft charges of any kind are considered “crimes of moral turpitude,” or degenerate acts and practices. Whether you are convicted of stealing a pack of gum or a luxury car, a theft conviction could lead to the loss of your job, security clearance, and/or professional license. This means that if you work for the government, in security, as a teacher, doctor, lawyer, accountant, or any other role that requires a license to perform, you could lose that license or be denied one in the future, if you are convicted.
What are the financial penalties of a theft charge?
The penalties for theft charges increase as the value of the item increases. When the value of the item taken is between $1,500 and $25,000, a defendant can be found guilty of a felony, subject to up to five years in prison, fined up to $10,000, or both. The defendant will also pay restitution to the property owner. When the value of the item taken is between $25,000 and $100,000, the consequences naturally becomes more serious. The offense is penalized as a felony with a maximum prison term of 10 years and/or a fine of up to $15,000, and the defendant will pay restitution to the property owner. When the value of the stolen item is $100,000 or more, the offense is punished as a felony with a prison term of up to 20 years and/or a fine of up to $25,000, and restitution.
A theft is considered a misdemeanor when the value of the stolen item is less than $1,500. For a first offense, the jail term is up to six months, a fine of up to $500, or both. If it is a repeat offense, the penalty is up to one year and/or a fine of up to $500, and restitution.
Theft of $100 or less is considered a misdemeanor and is subject to a maximum jail term of 90 days, a fine of up to $500, or both. With four or more prior convictions of theft of property or services, the fine increases to $1,500.
What are the penalties for shoplifting in Maryland?
While some might consider shoplifting to be a minor offense, the consequences are not minimal. The theft of merchandise with a value of $100 or less from a business is considered misdemeanor shoplifting. The maximum penalty for misdemeanor shoplifting is 90 days. If the value of the item taken is greater than $100, the jail sentence can increase to 18 months.
Some stores require restitution with every shoplifting conviction. If an individual is convicted of misdemeanor shoplifting, then depending on the value of the item, he or she could serve some jail time, and pay fines, court costs, and restitution.
If an item has a higher value, such as jewelry or electronics, shoplifting can be penalized as a felony.
Civil liability associated with theft
Restitution is a civil remedy for crime victims. Once the defendant is convicted of theft, the crime victim can pursue restitution for the value of the item stolen and any allowable expenses that the victim may have incurred because of the crime. Restitution is not mandatory in every theft case; the judge may decide if restitution is appropriate.
Victims of crime can sue the offender for any damages they incurred because of the crime even if the defendant is not found guilty in the criminal trial.
How a Maryland criminal defense lawyer can help when you have been charged with theft
Theft charges are serious. If you are facing a theft charge, you need the guidance of an experienced Bowie criminal defense attorney on your side. Our firm has represented the interests of clients charged with criminal offenses for almost four decades. Whether your charge is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, we are here to help make sure that you have the best possible chance of receiving a favorable outcome of your case.
A Bowie criminal defense attorney ready to protect you and your rights
Don’t try to face theft charges on your own. Joseph Carey, of Carey Law Office in Bowie and Crofton, is here to safeguard your rights and provide a solid defense on your behalf. For more than 37 years, we have served the legal needs of our community. You may call 301-464-2500 or fill out this contact form to learn more about our services today.