Some of the most straightforward criminal accusations are those that involve theft. It is well known that it is illegal to take the property or cash of others without their permission. However, Maryland’s theft laws also include provisions that punish the receipt of stolen property and any act meant to deceive another out of ownership of property. Because of these wide-ranging statutory offenses, it is essential that people facing theft allegations be prepared to defend themselves. Working with a Salisbury theft lawyer could provide an essential advantage. A dedicated criminal defense attorney could work to not only refute the idea that a theft occurred but also to fight back against prosecutor allegations of intent that are key to any theft charge.
The Various forms of Theft in Salisbury
Maryland’s core theft statute is contained in Md. Criminal Law Code Ann. §7-104. This overarching statute states that it is illegal for any person to willfully take control over another person’s property with the intent of depriving the owner of its use. Because of this statute, theft can occur if a person takes property with the intent to keep it, to sell it, or even to destroy it.
However, the same statute also punishes activity that involves the possession of stolen property. Even if a person does not steal the item themselves, the law prohibits the simple possession of these items if the possessor knows that it is stolen.
It is also illegal to steal the services of another. For example, one cannot hire a person to fix a car and then not pay for the services. In essence, anything that has value, including labor, could be the subject of a theft charge. A Salisbury theft lawyer could help individuals fully understand the theft statute and how it affects their case.
Penalties for Theft
The punishments for a violation of the theft statute are directly tied to the value of the property taken. The method by which a person takes the item is inconsequential with the exception of robbery laws that punish theft through the use of force.
Theft may be a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the value of the property. The classes of punishment are as follows:
- All values at less than $100 are misdemeanors carrying imprisonment of no more than 90 days, a fine of up to $500, or both
- Values between $100 and $1,500 are also misdemeanors but the punishments increase to six months potential jail sentence for a first offense
- Items valued at between $1,500 and $25,000 are felonies. The maximum penalties here are prison terms of up to five years and a maximum fine of $10,000
- Items valued at between $25,000 and $100,000 are also felonies where the maximum imprisonment is 10 years and the fine rises to $15,000
- All values at above $100,000 are felonies where the fine may be as high as $25,000 and the maximum prison sentence is 20 years
When determining the value of the items for the charge, the prosecutor will combine the values of all items taken. For examine, a person accused of taking five $500 televisions will face a felony charge since the total value is $2,500. No matter the nature of the theft charges or the severity of the accusation, a Salisbury theft lawyer may be able to help.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Defendants?
Theft crimes are intent crimes, and to get a conviction, a prosecutor must prove a defendant knowingly and willfully tried to take property that belonged to someone else. There are many possible defenses that can be raised and legal arguments to make that can result in a jury questioning whether the prosecutor has met the burden of proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt.
The job of a Salisbury theft lawyer is to help defendants accused of theft to explore options for raising defenses or otherwise putting together a case to avoid conviction. Depending upon the circumstances of your arrest and charges, you could argue for evidence to be kept out of court because of a Fourth Amendment violation or could argue that you could not have stolen the property because you had a rightful claim to it. There are other possible defenses that your lawyer can help you explore as well.
Some defendants don’t want to go to court when faced with theft charges. If you are concerned about a jury outcome or if you decide with your lawyer’s help that the evidence is strong for conviction, your attorney can help you to explore diversion programs or plea bargain opportunities.
Criminal defendants are legally entitled to a lawyer in theft cases, and you deserve to have a Salisbury theft lawyer with experience handling cases like yours.
Speak with a Salisbury Theft Attorney
Allegations of theft in Salisbury or anywhere in Maryland are serious issues. Even the alleged taking of small items are misdemeanor level offenses where a conviction could result in a jail sentence. More valuable items result in felony level offenses where a conviction is likely to lead to a prison sentence of multiple years.
A Salisbury theft lawyer could help individuals defeat these allegations in court. This can include rebutting prosecutor evidence that a defendant intended to take the item or that they knew that the item was stolen. This can combine to help a defendant to avoid a conviction. Contact an attorney today to learn how they could help you.