Shoplifting is generally a somewhat minor offense. However, Maryland has no separate “shoplifting” statute like some states do, so these charges are typically filed under the same theft statute that more serious crimes are filed under. This means that your charges are full-fledged criminal charges, and you could face jail time and criminal fines, even for low-level theft offenses.
If you were arrested for shoplifting in the Baltimore area, call our lawyers today. The Baltimore shoplifting defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice represent people accused of shoplifting and other theft offenses. Our attorneys work to get charges dropped or dismissed and keep our clients out of jail. For a free legal consultation on your charges, call us today at (410) 694-7291.
Charges for Retail Theft and Shoplifting in Baltimore, MD
Shoplifting, or “retail theft,” is charged under the same general theft statute as other forms of theft in Maryland. Md. Code, Criminal Law § 7-104 contains these general theft laws and the definitions of theft. Under this law, theft is defined as intentionally taking control over someone else’s property. This can be done with the intent to “deprive the owner of the property” or by merely hiding or abandoning the property, even if they do not take the property for themselves.
In most cases of shoplifting, you can be accused of stealing and arrested before you even make it out the door. Walking out the door with unpaid merchandise fits squarely into the definition of shoplifting, but walking past the point of sale (i.e., the checkout line) can also be considered shoplifting. Even placing the merchandise into your backpack or purse can be considered a completed shoplifting offense, even if you did not leave the store yet. These charges are permitted because you have already taken control of the property with the requisite intent, even if you did not walk out of the store yet.
In some cases, you may also be accused of shoplifting if you alter the price tag or barcode so that the product scans at a lower cost at checkout. Even if you actually paid money for the item, you may have paid too little because of the trick, and you can still be accused of theft.
Most loss prevention agents and store security officers take a “wait and see” approach to these kinds of shoplifting situations to make sure that there are no questions or issues as to whether shoplifting did or did not occur. Because of this, they will typically wait until you walk out of the store or pass by the point of sale before stopping you or calling the police. In smaller businesses or family-owned stores, you may be stopped for shoplifting right away. Even if the charges do not stick, you could still be accused of attempted shoplifting, which still carries penalties.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Maryland
The penalties you can face for shoplifting depend on the value of what was stolen. The value of the stolen items is usually determined by the retail value in cases of shoplifting. With theft of money or checks, the face value of those items determines the value. The penalties for theft in Maryland break down as follows:
- Theft of goods under $100 is a misdemeanor punished by up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500.
- Theft of goods $100 or more but under $1,500 is a misdemeanor punished by up to 6 months in jail and a fine up to $500.
- Theft of goods $1,500 or more but under $25,000 is a felony punished by up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
- Theft of goods $25,000 or more but under $100,000 is a felony punished by up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
- Theft of goods $100,000 or more is a felony punished by up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.
Repeat offenses can lengthen the jail time and increase the fines for some levels of this offense. These repeat offender protocols typically apply to low-level theft crimes, which could include retail theft.
In addition to paying the fine, you will be required to return the stolen goods or pay their full value to the victim. This is known as “restitution,” and getting the victim their money back is often one of the most important parts of these cases for police and prosecutors. Sometimes, restitution can be worked out with the prosecution so that you can pay back the value of the stolen items over time or through community service. The availability of any programs like this depends heavily on the facts of your case.
Theft accomplished through the use of a weapon, violence, or threats of violence is usually upgraded to robbery. This typically means that the crime is seen as a crime of violence, and the penalties are increased.
In some cases, charges can be dropped or reduced, especially for first-time offenders. If you are convicted, our attorneys may be able to fight for lower sentences, potentially seeking a fine only or fighting to get you probation instead of jail time.
Call Our Baltimore Shoplifting Defense Attorneys for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one was charged with retail theft or shoplifting in Maryland, call the Baltimore shoplifting defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Randolph Rice today. Our attorneys represent the accused and work to get their charges dropped and dismissed. For your free legal consultation, call our attorneys today at (410) 694-7291.