Maryland Theft Lawyer
Crimes of shoplifting, robbery, and theft can result in misdemeanors or felonies in Maryland, with associated penalties including fines ranging from $500.00 to $25,000.00 or more, as well as incarceration sentences ranging from 90 days in jail to 30 years in prison, depending on the nature and circumstances of the crime. If you’ve been charged with theft, robbery, shoplifting or a related crime, you owe it to yourself to seek the assistance of a seasoned, licensed Maryland theft lawyer with a strong track record of success. A Maryland defense attorney could examine each detail of your case and use the best available legal resources to build a defense. En Español.
Crimes of robbery are covered by Title 3, Subtitle 4 of the Maryland Criminal Law Code. If you are found guilty of robbery, you’ll face a felony conviction as well as up to 15 years in prison, depending on the circumstances of your case.
State code Section 3-401 sets the definitions for terms related to robbery crimes. Robbery is defined as taking property away from another person through use of violence, force or the threat of violence or force. Code Section 3-401(d) defines property as “anything of value,” which includes but is not limited to the following:
- Real estate
- A commercial instrument
- A written document
- Anything growing
- Utilities, such as water, gas, and electricity
- A pet
- Food and beverages
- Data and information
It is also important to understand how state law defines specific terms related to the act of robbery. For example, §3-401(b) defines “deprive”—in the context of someone depriving another person of their property through an act of robbery—to mean withholding property under any of the following circumstances:
- On a permanent basis
- For a long enough amount of time that the property’s value diminishes significantly or is appropriated by the defendant
- With the express purpose of holding it for ransom or reward
- In order to use, move, or dispose of it in such a way that its owner will likely not be able to recover it
In other words, a person does not necessarily have to keep stolen property forever in order for their actions to qualify as a robbery. Nor do they have to gain anything physical as a result of their actions—a robbery can involve services provided by another person, or an interest in property rather than total possession.
The most important facet of a robbery when it comes to contesting criminal charges is the requirement of intent. A defendant cannot be convicted of robbery until the prosecution can show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to withhold someone else’s property for one of the other reasons listed above.
It can sometimes be an affirmative defense to robbery charges to show that a defendant did not have any intention of depriving the alleged victim of their property in a way that would constitute robbery under state law. Since this concept and other definitions related to this offense can be subjective, it is important for a defendant to have an experienced Maryland robbery attorney who could fight for their rights and build a strong case in their defense.
Armed robbery, as stated under Section 3-403, is defined as robbery with a dangerous weapon, or robbery with the threat of a weapon, such as a knife or firearm. The penalty associated with being found guilty of armed robbery is a felony conviction, as well as up to 20 years in prison.
Carjacking is covered by Section 3-405, which defines carjacking as taking unauthorized possession of a motor vehicle from another person through intimidation, threat, force or violence. This same subsection prohibits armed carjacking. It is not a valid defense to assert that you had no intention of depriving the owner of his or her vehicle permanently. The penalties associated with carjacking and armed carjacking are extremely serious, and include a felony conviction as well as up to 30 years in prison. This sentence can run consecutively to sentences for other crimes carried out during the carjacking.
Crimes of theft are covered by Title 7, Subtitle 1 of the Maryland criminal law code. According to Section 7-102, theft is a single crime that includes many separate crimes previously known as the following:
- Larceny after trust
- Larceny by trick
- False pretenses
- Receiving stolen property
In order to be charged with and convicted of theft, you must act knowingly. In other words, purchasing goods without realizing they had been stolen by their previous owner would not constitute an instance of receiving stolen property. However, if you should have known the goods were stolen, this might also constitute sufficient evidence for a theft charge and it may be in your best interests to get in contact with a Maryland theft attorney.
Section 7-103 outlines how value is determined in cases of theft. According to this code, the value is defined as the market value of the services or property stolen where and when the crime occurred. If this value cannot be determined, the value is assumed to be the replacement value of the services or property within a reasonable time frame after the crime.
General Provisions and Penalties for Theft
Maryland criminal code Section 7-104 generally defines theft as “unauthorized control over property.” According to this code, it is illegal to intentionally deprive another individual of their property, to willfully or knowingly conceal, abandon or use that property in a way that deprives the other individual, to assume unauthorized control by deception, or to possess property knowing that it has been stolen.
Section 7-104(g) outlines the penalties associated with crimes of theft, which vary greatly depending on the determined value of the products or services stolen. Regardless of the value and the associated penalties, convicted offenders must pay the owner the value of the stolen property, or restore the property to the owner.
- If the value of the products or services stolen is between $1,000.00 and $10,000.00, the penalty is a felony conviction as well as a fine of up to $10,000.00 and up to 10 years in prison.
- If the value of the products or services stolen is between $10,000.00 and $100,000.00, the penalty is a felony conviction as well as a fine of up to $15,000.00 and up to 15 years in prison.
- If the value of the products or services stolen is greater than $100,000.00, the penalty is a felony conviction as well as a fine of up to $25,000.00 and up to 25 years in prison.
Crimes of theft in which the value of the products or services stolen is less than $1,000.00 are treated as misdemeanors. In this case, the penalty is a fine of up to $500.00 and a jail sentence not to exceed 18 months. If the value is less than $100.00, the penalty is a fine of up to $500.00 and a jail sentence of up to 90 days. However, individuals with two prior convictions of theft under $1,000.00 can receive an additional misdemeanor, a fine of up to $5,000.00 and a jail term of up to five years upon their third conviction.
State criminal code Section 7-104(h) defines separate laws for theft involving failing to pay for motor vehicle fuel after dispensing. In this case, the court will suspend the individual’s driver’s license and notify the Motor Vehicle Administration.
Motor Vehicle Theft
Motor vehicle theft is covered by Maryland Criminal Law Code Section 7-105. According to subsection (b) of this section, it is prohibited to willfully and knowingly take a motor vehicle out of another individual’s lawful use, control or custody without consent.
The penalty for motor vehicle theft is a felony, as well as a fine of up to $5,000.00 and up to five years in prison. The guilty party must also restore the motor vehicle or pay the full value of the motor vehicle to the owner.
Defenses to Crimes of Theft
Section 7-110 outlines some of the possible defenses for crimes of theft. If one of these defenses is true of your case, it is likely that you have a strong defense:
- You honestly believed that you had the right to exert control over or obtain the property
- You acted under a good faith claim in assuming your rights to the property
- The property taken belonged to your spouse, unless you and your spouse were living in separate locations at the time of the alleged crime
- If you allegedly stole a trade secret, you already had rightful knowledge of that trade secret, or the trade secret was available from a source other than the owner pressing charges against you
How a Maryland Theft Lawyer Can Help
Whether they result in misdemeanors or felonies, alleged crimes of theft in Maryland must be taken very seriously. If convicted, you could seriously jeopardize your ability to obtain housing, employment, loans and other living necessities in the future. A qualified, experienced Maryland theft lawyer could fight for your best interests at every step of the case. A defense attorney could examine every detail in order to build a strong defense, one that protects your constitutional rights and aims for the reduction of your charges or even the total dismissal of your case.