Theft may seem like a minor offense, but being charged can seriously affect your day to day activities. From possibly losing your job to having to serve jail time, theft charges can turn your life upside down. With so much on the line, why wouldn’t you hire a professional? Call a Baltimore theft lawyer today to talk about how we can help you.
An Overview of Theft in Baltimore
Theft and other related crimes are covered under Title 7 of the Maryland Criminal Law Code. The Maryland Code breaks down theft into three subcategories (1) crimes involving theft, (2) unlawful use of goods, and (3) crimes involving telecommunications and electronics. Within these categories the law further defines theft to encompass motor vehicle theft, newspaper theft and bad checks.
The implementation of the theft laws now encompasses all separate crimes formerly known as larceny, embezzlement, false pretenses, shoplifting and receiving stolen property. In order to prove theft, the prosecution must provide evidence to show that the accused knowingly took the items in question. Don’t battle theft charges alone, call a qualified Baltimore theft lawyer who can help you through the process.
Defenses for Baltimore Theft Charges
- Maryland Criminal Law 7-110 expressly prohibits the defense that the accused has interest in the property, if another also had an interest to possess that property. The law also expressly prohibits the defense that the property in question was taken from a person who had illegally obtained the property. So, if these defenses are not allowed, then what is?
Under the same section, the lists four defenses that are permissible in court.
- The accused acted in good faith
- The accused acted in honest belief that she had the right to obtain the property
- The property involved was that of a spouse (with caveats)
- If the property in question was a trade secret, that the accused was allowed to rightfully know the trade secret or that the trade secret was available to the accused by alternative sources.
All of these defenses require the showing of evidence such as testimony, photographs, or other documents in order to be successful. If you have been charged with theft, putting up your own defense may complicate things. Call a Baltimore theft lawyer to handle your defense and get the representation that you’re entitled to.
Penalties for a Theft Conviction in Baltimore, Maryland
Since theft is divided into categories based on the amount in question, the penalties are laid out in the same order. Maryland Criminal Law §7-104 covers the penalties for theft for a person convicted of theft of property or services with a value of:
- at least $1,500 but less than $25,000 is guilty of a felony and is subject to serve a sentence of not more than five years in prison and/or a fine not exceeding $10,000.
- at least $25,000 but less than $100,000 is guilty of a felony and is subject to imprisonment of not more than ten years and/or a fine not exceeding $15,000.
- $100,000 or more is guilty of a felony and is subject to serve a prison sentence of not more than twenty years and/or a fine not to exceed $25,000.
- at least $100 but less than $1,500 is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to imprisonment not exceeding six months and/or a fine not to exceed $500 for the first conviction.
- less than $100 is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to serve a sentence of not more than ninety days and/or a fine not exceeding $500.
While there are a number of various theft charges in Baltimore, this page will cover the following topics and principles:
- Theft under $100
- Theft $100 but less than $1,500
- Theft $1500 but less than $25,000
- Theft $25,000 but less than $100,000
- Theft of $100,000 or more
What is Theft Under $100?
Theft under $100 is most commonly charged in shoplifting cases. If an individual has been accused for stealing merchandise or a product that is valued under $100, the police will typically charge this offense. Theft under $100 is classified as a misdemeanor in Maryland. The maximum penalty for theft under $100 is 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. In addition, if convicted, some Courts in Maryland will assign probation, either supervised or unsupervised following the conviction.
Baltimore Theft $100 but less than $1,500
If the value of property or services taken from a victim ranges from $100 but less than $1,500, it is likely that a defendant will be charged with this theft offense. If convicted of theft in Baltimore for $100 but less than $1,500, a person is facing a misdemeanor charge. If the case is taken to trial and is found guilty or a defendant pleads guilty, then an individual can be sentenced up to 6 months in jail and/or a $500 fine.
If convicted for a second or subsequent time, the State will file enhanced penalties. If found guilty for a second or subsequent conviction, a person could face up to 1 year in jail and/or a $500 fine. The Court will most likely place a person on probation for a theft conviction in Baltimore. A Baltimore theft lawyer can work with you to reduce or minimize the consequences of a theft conviction. There are defenses to theft, mainly the value and proof of the actual theft. A criminal defense lawyer will be able to present various defenses at trial or to the State’s Attorney.
Baltimore Theft $1,500 but less than $25,000
Theft of property or services that range from $1,500 but less than $25,000 is classified as a felony in Maryland. If charged, tried and convicted of theft $1500 but less than $25,000, you could be facing up to 5 years in jail and/or a $10,000 fine. First time theft charges may not bring an instant conviction. As a first time offender in Maryland may benefit from the entry of a probation before judgment (PBJ) in their matter. The benefits of a PBJ run from not having to tell anyone that you have been convicted to the possibility of expungement after 3 years.
Baltimore, MD Theft $25,000 but less than $100,000
Theft of $25,000 but less than $100,000 is even more serious and is classified as a felony in Maryland. As this is a more serious offense than theft less than $25,000, it is typically charged when it is alleged a vehicle is stolen. As the average cost to replace a vehicle in the United States is $33,560. The penalty for theft $25,000 but less than $100,000 is 10 years in jail and/or a $15,000 fine. A Baltimore theft lawyer can mitigate the penalty for theft by way of a history and reason presentation to the Court. In addition to a theft conviction, the Court will order that that defendant restore or replace the value of the item taken.
Theft of $100,000 or more in Baltimore, Maryland
Theft of $100,000 or more is most commonly charged in Baltimore when there has been an alleged employee theft. This may occur when an employee has access to funds that belong to a business. This crime will also be charged when a person has allegedly taken a large item from another person. Theft of $100,000 or more in Baltimore, MD, is classified as a felony. The penalty for theft of this value is 20 years in jail and/or a $25,000 fine. As most thefts of this value are charged in the Circuit Court, a Judge could order a period of probation to last up to 5 years.
Baltimore Theft Laws
Baltimore theft laws are the same criminal laws that apply throughout the State of Maryland. While there are local city and county laws that may apply to minor theft crimes, the bulk of the criminal theft charges in Baltimoreare charged under the Maryland Criminal Law Article 7-104. Baltimore theft lawyer Randolph Rice has successfully defended clients charged with theft and shoplifting as well as employee theft for years. Contact his office today to schedule a free consultation.
Why is a Theft Conviction So Harmful to Your Future?
Theft crimes and theft conviction are damaging to a person’s reputation when looking for a job. If a future employer sees a prior theft conviction on a new hire’s record, they are hesitant to trust that employee with money or other responsibilities. This is why theft convictions are so serious and must be avoided at all costs. Make sure you work with a skilled Baltimore theft lawyer to minimize the sentence and penalties for theft if you’ve been charged
Crimes Against Property
Crimes against property are treated seriously in the state of Maryland and can result in serious legal consequences. Maryland law has consolidated various property crimes into the single offense of theft. The formerly distinct offenses that now fall under Maryland Criminal Code § 7-102 include the following:
- Larceny by trick
- Larceny after trust
- False pretenses
- Receiving stolen goods
The offense of theft occurs when a person willfully or knowingly obtains or exerts unauthorized control of property if he or she:
- Intends to deprive the owner of the property
- Willfully or knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the property in a manner that deprives the owner of the property
- Uses, conceals, or abandons the property knowing the use, concealment, or abandonment probably will deprive the owner of the property
Theft Related Crimes
While the general theft statutes will be charged anytime someone has taken an item from another. There are similar criminal counts that come with a theft charge. If theft occurred by force, then an individual can be charged with robbery or armed robbery, if a weapon was used. Also, theft from a home could be considered a burglary. There are various levels of burglary, depending on where the theft happened. A Baltimore theft lawyer can be helpful in devising a defense to your theft-related charges.
Expungement of Theft Charges
Theft charges can be expunged under certain circumstances. If the theft charges were nolle proseui, stet, dismissed or you received an acquittal, then the case can be expunged immediately. A PBJ disposition must wait 3 years from end of probation and a “guilty” finding cannot be expunged until 10 years after the conviction under Maryland Criminal Procedure Article 10-110. If you want to have your record expunged, speak with a Baltimore criminal defense and theft lawyer today. You may be eligible, a lawyer can review your record in the Maryland Judiciary Case Search.
Our Baltimore Theft Attorneys Can Help
If you’ve been charged with theft in Baltimore, Maryland, you need to seek the advice of a theft lawyer. At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, they offer free consultations for all new theft charges and clients. There are many ways to beat and defend a theft charge in Baltimore. From lack of evidence to disputing the value of the items taken, theft is not always what it may seem when initially charged.
If you have a leaking pipe, you call a plumber. If your car breaks down, you call a mechanic. So, if you are facing theft charges, call a lawyer. At Rice, Murtha & Psoras, we have the experience it takes to help defend you against theft charges. We have handled hundreds of cases and know the legal landscape. Call us, your local theft attorneys, to help fight for you.