Theft is one of the most common criminal charges in the Maryland court system.  If you are facing theft charges in Maryland, it’s important to understand what lies ahead for you; namely, the penalties and what the State must prove to convict you of theft. Baltimore criminal defense lawyer Randolph Rice has compiled a list of 15 facts you need to know about theft crimes in Maryland.

The Penalty for Theft in Maryland

Not all thefts are treated equally in the state of Maryland. Depending on how much a perpetrator steal, he may be looking at a few months in jail and a relatively small fine to decades in jail and tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

The type of classification of crime also changes depending on the amount stolen. Smaller amounts are classified as misdemeanors; more than $1000, however, is treated as a felony.

See the charge below for detailed explanations of theft penalties in the state of Maryland.

ChargeMaximum PenaltyClassification
Theft Less Than $10090 days and/or $500 FineMisdemeanor
Theft Less Than $100018 months and/or $500 FineMisdemeanor
Theft $1000 But Less Than $10,00010 years and/or $10,000 FineFelony
Theft $10,00 But Less Than $100,00015 years and/or $15,000 FineFelony
Theft $100,000 Or More25 years and/or $25,000 FineFelony

Willful or Knowing Use of Deception

It is a crime in Maryland to obtain control over property by willfully or knowingly using deception. This includes lying or misrepresenting yourself or the circumstances to gain access to property that you do not have a right to use. It also covers scenarios where one may abandon or hide property with the intent of taking possession of it, thereby depriving the owner of the property in question.

Possession of Stolen Property Charges

It is a crime in Maryland to possess stolen personal property. This applies in any case where there is a reasonable expectation that the person in possession of the property knows or suspects that it may be stolen. It is important to note that possessing stolen property is enough to expose you to theft charges, even if you are not responsible for stealing the property in question.

This means, for example, that if you buy a car that you have reason to believe is stolen, you’ll be charged with theft as if you stole the car itself. Just because you didn’t actually hot wire the vehicle and drive it away doesn’t leave you free from theft charges.

Lost, Mislaid, or Delivered Property by Mistake

It is a crime in Maryland to take control over property knowing that the property was lost, mislaid, or delivered by mistake. That, combined with the following two factors expose one to a theft charge in Maryland: failure to take reasonable measures to locate the rightful owner or intended recipient of a piece of property, along with the intention to deprive the rightful owner of permanent use or benefit of that property.

For instance, if you find an expensive cell phone on the ground, you can reasonably assume that someone lost it and is probably looking for it. If you instead pocket the phone with the intent to use it (or sell it) instead of making a reasonable search for its owner, you may be charged with thievery.

Similarly, if a package is delivered to your home but you didn’t order or pay for the goods inside of it, but you decide to keep the items instead of sending them back to the return address, you could be looking at a theft charge.

In short: Just because you come across something doesn’t mean it’s yours; it still belongs to someone else, and the law says you have to at least try and return it.

Obtaining the Services of Another

It is a crime in Maryland to obtain the services of another that are available only for compensation by deception. For example, accepting money to do a job that you are not capable of completing, or which you do not intend to complete, subjects you to theft charges.

It is also a crime to misrepresent yourself to obtain goods or services that you are not entitled to receive. For example, if you show up to a farmer’s market and pose as someone else in order to get a box of vegetables from a farmer, you’ll probably be charged with theft—even though they gave the box to you willingly.

PENALTY FOR THEFT OVER $1000 BUT LESS THAN $10,000

As we saw in the chart above, if you are convicted of theft of property or services with a value of at least $1,000 but less than $10,000, you are looking at up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000 or both. You may also be required to restore the property taken from the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services.

Theft between $1000 and $10,000 is classified as a felony in Maryland. Felonies are considered more serious crimes by the federal government and the state of Maryland. Individuals convicted of felonies may end up losing their voting rights and hold public office, among other penalties.

PENALTY FOR THEFT OVER $10,000 BUT LESS THAN $100,000

If you are convicted of theft between $10,000 and $100,000, you are subject to up to 15 years in prison or up to a $15,000 fine or both. You may also be required to restore the property taken from the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services. As above, stealing this amount of goods or services counts as a felony.

PENALTY FOR THEFT OF $100,000 OR MORE

If you are convicted of theft of $100,000 or more, you are subject to up to 25 years in prison or a fine of up to $25,000 or both. You may also be required to restore the property to the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services. This is a felony as well.

PENALTY FOR THEFT OF LESS THAN $1,000

Theft of less than $1,000 is considered a misdemeanor in Maryland. If you are convicted of this, you are subject to up to 18 months in prison or a fine of up to $500 or both. You may also be required to restore the property taken from the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services.

PENALTY FOR THEFT LESS THAN $100

Not all theft counts as a felony—but it’s still serious either way. If you are convicted of theft of property or services with a value of less than $100 you are subject to up to 90 days in jail or a fine of up to $500 or both.

You may also be required to restore the property to the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services stolen. Theft less than $100 is classified as a misdemeanor in Maryland. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, but as you can see, misdemeanors can still carry jail time and large penalties.

ENHANCED PENALTIES FOR THEFT IN MARYLAND

Getting busted for theft once is bad enough. If you get caught multiple times for it, you may be subject to “advanced penalties.”

If you are have two or more prior convictions under Maryland’s theft statutes and you are convicted of theft of property or services with a value of less than $1,000, your third theft conviction could result in up to 5 years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000 or both. You may also be required to restore the property taken from the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services.

THE STATE MUST NOTIFY YOU OF ENHANCED PENALTIES

Even if you’re a multiple offender, you still have rights: The state of Maryland cannot subject you to enhanced penalties without notifying you first.

The court may not impose enhanced penalties unless the State’s Attorney serves notice to you or your attorney before the acceptance of a plea of guilty or nolo contendere (“no contest”) or at least 15 days before trial. The State must notify you at that point that prosecutors will seek the enhanced penalties and list your prior convictions.

FAILURE TO PAY FOR MOTOR FUEL

Certain types of theft in Maryland carry with them unique penalties. If you are convicted of theft of motor fuel in Maryland or failure to pay for motor fuel after the motor fuel was dispensed into a vehicle, for instance, your driver’s license may be suspended. This penalty is listed under § 16-206.1 of the Transportation Article. If it applies, the Motor Vehicle Administration will also be alerted of the violation.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR THEFT IN MARYLAND

It is important to remember: The state can only prosecute you for theft for a certain amount of time. Charges for theft cases between $100 and $1000 must be brought within 2 years of the commission of the crime. In most other misdemeanors in Maryland, the State must charged you within one year from the date of the alleged crime.

MARYLAND THEFT STATUTES

The Maryland theft statutes are contained within Maryland Criminal Law Section 7-104.

MARYLAND THEFT DEFENSE ATTORNEY RANDOLPH RICE

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Maryland, contact criminal defense attorney Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291.

Recent theft cases in the state of Maryland:

Below are a few recent theft cases prosecuted in Maryland:

  • In March 2018, according to The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore police lieutenant was found guilty of “theft over $1,000” for taking thousands of dollars in unearned pay.
  • In Easton, Maryland a few years ago, The Sun reported, a woman pled guilty to shoplifting from a grocery store. Notably, the perpetrator had already served time in prison for shoplifting.
  • In Early 2018 a Baltimore principal received three months in jail for stealing nearly $60,000 from the city school system.
  • Recently the president of an animal welfare organization pled guilty to stealing nearly $40,000 from her employer.

Theft Cases in Maryland

Below are a few important cases related to theft law in the state of Maryland:

  • Grant v. State, 569 A. 2d 1237 – Md: Court of Appeals 1990– We are asked in this appeal to decide whether a defendant may be convicted of storehouse breaking with intent to steal goods in one jurisdiction when he has previously been convicted of theft by possessing the same stolen goods in another jurisdiction.
  • Stubbs v. State, 956 A. 2d 155 – Md: Court of Appeals 2008 – The case at bar presents the question of whether the 2004 amendments had the unintended consequences of (1) requiring the State to prove that a defendant charged only with theft under $500 stole at least $100 worth of property or services, or (2) limiting the maximum sentence that can be imposed on a defendant convicted of theft under $500 when the evidence presented at trial establishes that the stolen property was worth less than $100

If you have been charged with theft in Maryland and you need a criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights in Court. Contact Attorney Randolph Rice at (410) 694-7291 to schedule a free consultation.  You can schedule a free consultation at one of his offices below or click here to email the office.