Montgomery County Theft Lawyer
Many different behaviors constitute theft under Maryland law. Maryland Code Section 7-104 defines theft to include willfully and knowingly obtaining or exerting control over someone else’s property to appropriate the property for your own and/or to deprive the rightful owner of it. Maryland law also considers it a theft crime if you use deceptive means to take someone else’s property; possess property you know is stolen; take stolen property without trying to find the owner; or use services without paying when you know the provider expects payment. If you are charged with these or similar offenses, a Montgomery County theft lawyer can help you to defend yourself or negotiate a plea agreement.
Common Theft Violations in Montgomery County
In addition to general theft, Maryland also prohibits specific types of theft including:
- Stealing a motor vehicle (Code Section 7-105)
- Stealing newspapers or exerting unauthorized control over newspapers to prevent someone from reading them (Code Section 7-106.)
- Writing a check without funds to cover the draw (Code Section 7-107)
You may be charged with a general theft offense under Code Section 7-104 for misappropriating or taking any type of property or services from a rightful owner, as long as the prosecutor can prove you acted intentionally.
Most theft crimes, including shoplifting, are prosecuted as a general theft offense. You will be informed of the charges you are facing at an arraignment, where you will also need to argue for bail and enter a plea. It is a good idea to have a Montgomery County theft lawyer with you at arraignment to advise you on how to deal with the court proceedings.
How Maryland Penalizes Theft
The value of the stolen items is going to determine the consequences of conviction for general theft under Code Section 7-104.
- Theft of items valued at under $100 is a misdemeanor. Potential penalties include 90 days in jail and a fine up to $500.
- Theft of items valued at $100 to $1,000 is a misdemeanor. The maximum jail sentence is 18 months and you could be fined up to $500.00.
- Theft of items valued at $1,000 to under $10,000 is a felony. You could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- Theft of items valued at $10,000 to under $100,000 is a felony. You could be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and a $15,000 fine.
- Theft of items valued at $100,000 or more is a felony You could be sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
If you commit a special theft offense like stealing a motor vehicle or a newspaper, writing bad checks, or stealing a firearm, you will face different consequences than for general theft. Your Montgomery County theft lawyer will help you to understand the potential penalties you could receive if convicted.
Hiring a Montgomery County Theft Lawyer
Prosecutors frequently negotiate favorable plea deals, especially for low-value thefts and first offenses. Your Montgomery County theft lawyer can help you to reduce penalties or your sentence in exchange for admitting your guilt.
Charges may be dropped if evidence of theft was illegally obtained and cannot be presented against you, so your theft attorney in Montgomery County can review any searches to determine if your Fourth Amendment rights were violated.
You can also raise other defenses including a rightful claim of ownership to the property, or argue there is insufficient evidence of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Your attorney will help you determine what the right approach to take is when dealing with the prosecutor and presenting your case to a judge or jury. Call a Montgomery County theft lawyer today to learn more.