Maryland Theft Lawyer

Theft crimes in the state of Maryland can vary from shoplifting of minor items to fraud or embezzlement of thousands of dollars. The penalties for a theft conviction depend primarily on the value of the property and can range widely. As a result, if you are facing any theft charges, you may wish to contact a Maryland theft lawyer for advice and guidance.

While you may not think that you need legal representation for a minor theft charge, even a misdemeanor theft conviction creates a permanent criminal record that could be damaging to your future. A crime of dishonesty that appears on background checks by employers can hinder you from getting some jobs. Therefore, hiring a skilled criminal attorney to represent you in criminal theft proceedings may be wise.

Theft Charges in Maryland

Md. Code, Crim. Law § 7-104 defines the offense of theft as the knowing exercise of unlawful control over the property of others, with the intent to deny the owners of the use of the property. Exerting control over the property may include using, hiding, or abandoning the property with the knowledge that doing so will probably deprive the owner of the property. Theft also includes different variations on the offense, including:

  • Using deception to deprive owners of the property intentionally
  • Possessing stolen property knowing or having a reasonable belief that it is stolen
  • Exerting control over property knowing that it was lost, misplaced, or mistakenly delivered to the wrong person and failing to take reasonable measures to restore the property to the correct owner when able to do so
  • Obtaining services of others only available for compensation by deception or with the knowledge that those services are without the consent of the person providing them

In all types of theft, individuals must have the requisite intent to deny the property owners use or control over the property. Without adequate evidence of this intent, individuals may not be convicted of theft. A Maryland theft attorney may be able to raise appropriate defenses concerning intent and other relevant elements of theft charges.

Penalties for a Maryland Theft Conviction

Like many states, Maryland bases the penalties for a theft conviction on the value of the property involved. Theft offenses may be misdemeanor offenses if the value of the property is less than $1,500, and felony offenses if the value of the property is more than $1,500. As the penalties for a theft conviction may be severe, consulting a theft attorney in Maryland may be advantageous.

Misdemeanor Theft Offenses

Although all offenses involving stolen property valued at $1,500 or less are misdemeanors, the penalties for these offenses further depends on the value of the property. For example, if the property is worth:

  • Less than $100, the penalty is a maximum 90 days in jail and $100 fine
  • More than $100, but less than $1,500, the sanction is a maximum six months in jail and $500 fine

In addition to these penalties, individuals convicted of a theft offense must either return the undamaged property to the owners. Alternatively, they may pay restitution to the owners in the amount of the value of the property.

Felony Theft Offenses

Penalties for felony theft, including prison sentences and fines, also differ according to the value of the property. For example, property valued between $1,500 and $24,999 may serve up to five years in prison and pay up to a $10,000 fine. For property valued at between $25,000 and $99,999, the potential prison sentence increases to ten years and the fine to $15,000.

The most severe theft penalties apply to the theft of property valued at $100,000 or more. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Regardless of the level of the felony theft offense, individuals also are responsible for either returning the intact property to its owners or reimbursing them for the value of the stolen property.

Call a Maryland Theft Attorney for Advice

While the penalties for theft may be harsh, second and, subsequent convictions can have even more severe results. Theft convictions can make it more challenging to find and maintain employment, secure housing, and attain some professional licenses. Contacting a Maryland theft lawyer may be advantageous to you if you are concerned about the impact of a theft conviction on your future.

If you are arrested on theft charges or become aware that you are the target of a theft investigation by police, you owe it to yourself to contact legal counsel for help. With a powerful legal advocate at your side, you may be able to achieve a better result in your case.