Rockville Theft Lawyer
If you have been accused of a theft offense in Maryland, you may feel angry and embarrassed. Accusations of theft may feel like an attack on your character, and our Rockville criminal lawyers understand just how important it is for you to clear your name of these allegations.
In the state of Maryland, theft is defined as intentionally acquiring or exerting control over property without the permission of the property owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of his or her property. This includes intentionally or knowingly concealing, using, or abandoning property in a manner that will likely deprive the owner of the property, as well as using deception to obtain the property.
Common Theft Offenses in Rockville
Common theft crimes in the state of Maryland include larceny, embezzlement, false pretenses, shoplifting, and receiving stolen property. Fraud crimes are also considered theft offenses, including passing bad checks, identity theft, and credit card fraud. Controlling lost, mislaid, or wrongly delivered property is also considered a theft crime, if the accused had the intent to deprive the property owner.
Obtaining services that are only available for compensation without paying for those services is also illegal in Rockville. Stealing cable television or Internet access is one common example of this offense.
Penalties for Theft
The penalties for theft offenses depend on the value of the property stolen or services obtained illegally, and whether the accused person has prior convictions for similar offenses, which can bring about heightened penalties.
Felony theft involves property valued at more than $1000. Theft of between $1000 and $10,000 is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Wrongfully taking a value of between $10,000 and $100,000 carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000, while theft of $100,000 or more can land a person convicted of this offense in prison for up to 25 years, with a fine of up to $25,000.
Theft of less than $1000 is considered a misdemeanor offense, but carries a hefty penalty of up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $500. Theft of less than $100 is punishable by up to 90 days in jail in a fine of up to $500.
All theft offenses – whether felony or misdemeanor –also carry the requirement that the person convicted must pay restitution to the owner of the property for the value stolen, or must return the property, if possible. These penalties can be harsh, and an experienced theft lawyer in Rockville may be able to help your case and seek lesser punishment, if you get in contact with him or her early on in the process.
What are Defenses to Larceny Charges?
People facing allegations of larceny are not without hope. A Rockville lawyer could utilize a variety of defenses to theft charges to either minimize the defendant’s potential penalties or have the charges dropped entirely.
One potential defense is the genuine belief that the defendant had the right to exert control over or obtain the property allegedly stolen. For instance, if the original owner gave the impression that the defendant could take the property.
Another defense is that the defendant was acting under a good faith claim in assuming the rights to property. Additionally, if the allegedly stolen property belonged to the defendant’s spouse, and they were not living apart at the time of the crime, then that could be used as a defense as well.
For people accused of stealing a trade secret, it could be a defense if they already had rightful knowledge of that information, or that the information was available from a source other than the owner pressing charges. A skilled attorney could review the facts of alleged theft to determine if any of these defenses apply to a defendant’s particular case.
How a Rockville Theft Attorney Can Help
Your Rockville theft lawyer will be familiar with the various defenses that are permitted for these charges, under Maryland Code § 7-110. If you acted on a good faith claim of right to the property, or if you honestly believe that you had the right to obtain the property, your Rockville theft attorney can argue to the court that you lacked the intent necessary to commit the theft offense. Whatever the circumstances that led to your theft charges, it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who can pursue reduced or dismissed charges as soon as possible.