In Maryland, shoplifting is classified as a theft crime, which means that a shoplifting offense is treated more seriously there than it is in other states. A shoplifting charge in Maryland can result in jail time and large fines. If you are currently facing shoplifting charges in Maryland, the best thing you can do for your future is to fight the charges with the help of an experienced Maryland shoplifting defense lawyer.
The Maryland shoplifting defense lawyers that work with the Rice, Murtha & Psoras are prepared to help people defend themselves against shoplifting charges and similar theft offenses. We can put our legal expertise to use to mitigate your shoplifting charges in Maryland. Get in touch with us today to learn more about scheduling a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case. Call (410) 694-7291.
Defining Shoplifting in Maryland
In Maryland, shoplifting is included among other theft laws. Shoplifting is different from other types of theft in that it involves taking a specific piece of merchandise from a business. According to Maryland law, shoplifting is a crime in which the defendant knowingly or willingly attains control over a piece of property without authorization; it also applies if the defendant had the intent to deprive the owner of the piece of property or uses, hides, or deserts the property in a way that deprives (or probably will deprive) the owner. Given this definition, a piece of property does not need to leave the store to be considered shoplifting; it only needs to be concealed.
It’s important to note that it is also illegal to buy stolen merchandise in Maryland. A person can be held criminally liable if they knew or believed that a piece of property was stolen or intended to deprive an owner of their property.
Penalties for Shoplifting Charges in Maryland
Penalties for shoplifting in Maryland are dependent on the value of the item that was stolen; in cases of theft of money, the face value of the money is taken into account. The theft of items that are worth less than $1,500 is a misdemeanor, while the theft of items that are worth more than $1,500 is a felony. In addition to jail time and fines, anyone that is convicted of shoplifting will have to either return the stolen goods or pay their value in full to the owner(s). This is known as restitution.
Theft of items that are worth under $100 is punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a fine of up to $500. Theft of items that have a value between $100 and $1,500 can result in up to 6 months in jail and a fine of $500.
There are three tiers to felony shoplifting charges. The first tier is for the theft of goods that have a value between $1,500 and $25,000; the penalties for this crime are either a maximum of 5 years in jail or a fine of up to $10,000. The next tier is for the theft of items that have a value between $25,000 and $100,000, which carries a punishment of either 10 years in prison or fines of up to $15,000. Shoplifting items that are worth $100,000 or more can result in either a maximum of 20 years in prison or fines of up to $25,000. First-time offenders of shoplifting are often able to get their charges or dropped; it’s also possible for them to enter into probation programs.
Theft that is done with the use of violence, threats of violence, or a weapon will be considered robbery, which is a crime that carries more severe penalties than shoplifting.
How a Lawyer Can Help You with Your Maryland Shoplifting Charges
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Maryland, you can use the help of a lawyer to advise you throughout every stage in the legal proceedings. A lawyer will know when to file documents, whether a trial is the best option for you, and how to craft the best defense for your case.
There are possible defenses that can be used in shoplifting cases. One of the most common is a lack of intent to steal the piece of property. This defense may be used if you accidentally placed something in your purse while you were busy with something else. Other possible defenses for shoplifting include mistake of ownership of the property, coercion into taking the property, duress, entrapment, and intoxication.
Lawyers can also help you throughout the criminal proceedings following your shoplifting charges by reminding you of your rights. It’s important to remember that if you are approached by a loss prevention officer (a security guard hired by the retailer) or police officer after being accused of shoplifting, you do not have to speak with them. You should give them your name and identification, but otherwise you can request a lawyer before speaking with them.
Anything you say to them can be used against you as evidence later. If you are arrested for shoplifting, it is crucial that you contact an attorney as quickly as possible.
Call Our Maryland Shoplifting Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation
Maryland residents that have been charged with shoplifting are encouraged to get in touch with the Rice, Murtha & Psoras as soon as possible. We can represent you and defend your rights as your case moves through the legal system. Call us today at (410) 431-0911 and set up your free consultation.