Felony Theft in Maryland
When an individual takes an item that belongs to someone else without their permission, it is considered a form of theft. Whether or not a theft is a felony or a misdemeanor, is determined by the value of the item(s) stolen. In Maryland, a misdemeanor theft charge can be changed to a felonious degree under certain circumstances. A Maryland theft attorney can help an individual during their theft hearing.
There are financial penalties associated with theft and a felony theft conviction can lead to incarceration. If you have been charged with felony theft in Maryland, you will need to consult with a reputable theft lawyer who can evaluate your case.
Determining Felony Theft
Felony theft is determined by the value of the item(s) taken. If the value of the item taken was at least $1,000, that is considered a felony. If it is less than $1,000, it is considered a misdemeanor. In order to prove a felony theft, the State would have to show that the defendant took and carried away the property of another person with the intent to permanently deprive that person of their property, and that the value of the property taken would be at least $1,000.
Maximum Theft Penalties
If the value of the item is less than $100, then the maximum penalty is 90 days. If the item was worth less than $1,000, it is considered a misdemeanor and the maximum penalty for that would be 18 months incarceration.
The largest penalty that a person can get for a misdemeanor theft is 18 months incarceration in a local detention center by most judges. If the item taken was valued at least a $1,000 but less than $10,000, the maximum penalty is 10 years.
If the item was at least $10,000 in value but less than a $100,000, it is a felony theft in Maryland and the maximum penalty is increased to 15 years.
Escalating Misdemeanor Charges
In Maryland, the State has the option to charge someone under what is called a theft scheme, element of the statute. What that means is it applies to situations where perhaps someone has repeatedly stolen over a course of time; maybe from the same individuals or parties and over a course of weeks or months. If that is the case, then the State can charge that person under the continuing course of conduct.
Each of the different thefts, even if they were small valued thefts, can be aggregated to the point where the total value is considered a felony. If a person stole one $500 item, it would not rise to the level of being a felony. But if they stole a $500 item and repeatedly stole other $500 worth of items over the course of weeks or months, the State has the option to pursue that crime as a theft scheme which heightens the penalty and makes it a charge of felony theft in Maryland.
Hiring a Theft Lawyer
An experienced Maryland attorney is going help determining what potential defenses exist for someone facing charges and they can help determine if the individual has means to negotiate a good plea bargain that could reduce the crime felony to a misdemeanor, and potentially reduce what the jail sentence might be.
The most important thing to do is to review the Statement of Charges to know what the allegations are against the client. It is important to remember that the State has the burden of proof. A person can be charged based simply on probable cause, which is the lowest burden of proof in the system. But, in order to be convicted, the State has to be able to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
If you are facing felony theft in Maryland, you will need a skilled theft attorney who can review the evidence and your case. It is essential that an attorney analyzes the case, determines what evidence the State is planning on using and that the lawyer understands every element of the case. Consult an experienced attorney to ensure that you have legal representation that understands the local Maryland policies for felony theft.