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Maryland Theft Laws

In the state of Maryland, the offense of theft is a crime that has been codified to include conduct of all of the following former criminal offenses:

  • Larceny
  • Larceny by trick
  • Larceny after trust
  • Embezzlement
  • False pretenses
  • Shoplifting
  • Receiving stolen property

If you have been charged with any of these theft or robbery offenses, it is important that you contact a Maryland theft lawyer. Or, learn more about how one can help.

General Theft Section 7-104

Under Section 7-104(a) it is illegal for an individual to (1) intentionally or knowingly (2) acquire or exert control over property without permission (3) when the individual:

  • Intentionally or knowingly conceals, uses, or abandons the property in such a way that the property owner is deprived of the property, or
  • Acts with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, or
  • Conceals, uses, or abandons the property in a manner that the individual knows will likely deprive the owner of the property.

Under Section 7-104(b) it is illegal for an individual to (1) intentionally and knowingly (2) use deception (3) to acquire property or obtain control over the property (3) when the individual:

  • Intentionally or knowingly conceals, uses, or abandons the property in such a way that the property owner is deprived of the property, or
  • Acts with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, or
  • Conceals, uses, or abandons the property in a manner that the individual knows will likely deprive the owner of the property.

Possession of Stolen Property Section 7-104(c)

Under Section 7-104(c)(1) it is illegal for a person to (1) knowingly, or believing property has likely been stolen, (2) be in possession of stolen property (3) when the individual:

  • Intentionally or knowingly conceals, uses, or abandons the property in such a way that the property owner is deprived of the property, or
  • Acts with the intent to deprive the owner of the property, or
  • Conceals, uses, or abandons the property in a manner that the individual knows will likely deprive the owner of the property.

Section 7-104(c)(2) deals with individuals who are in the business of buying and selling goods. It states that the knowledge requirement for possession of stolen property as described in (1) above can be inferred in cases where:

  • The individual has possessed or exerting control over property that has been stolen from more than one person on separate occasions, or
  • The individual has obtained stolen property in a different transaction that occurred at some point during the year leading up to the criminal possession charge, or
  • The individual is in the business of buying and selling goods or property of the same kind as the stolen property and the individual acquired the stolen property for a price far below a reasonable value or the market price for such property.

In cases where an individual is charged with theft by possession of stolen property, the following defenses (as listed in Section 7-104(c)(3)), among others, are not permissible:

  • The defense that the person who actually stole the property has yet to be convicted, caught, or identified,
  • The defense that the property was not stolen in Maryland.

Control Over Lost, Mislaid, or Wrongly Delivered Property

Under Section 7-104(d), it is illegal for an individual (1) to acquire property (2) the individual knows has been lost, misplaced, or delivered by mistake (including mistakes as to the identity of the recipient and the amount delivered) when (3) the individual:

  • Knows the identity of the owner, learns the identity of the owner, OR the individual learns or is aware of a reasonable method of identifying the property’s owner;
  • Has the intent to deprive the owner permanently of the property (or its use or its benefits), whether the intent exists at the time the individual obtains the property or at some point in time later; or
  • Fails to take any reasonable measures to restore the property to the owner.

Services Available only for Compensation (Payment) Section 7-104(e)

Under Section 7-104(e) it is illegal for a person (1) to procure the services of another individual  (2) when such services are only available in exchange for compensation or payment (3) when:

  • The perpetrator procures the services through deception, or
  • The perpetrator procures the services while knowing that the services are being provided without the consent of the individual providing them.

Penalties Section 7-104(g)

The penalties for theft depend on the value of the property or services stolen and on whether the perpetrator has prior convictions for theft.

Felony Theft

If a person is guilty of theft where the value of the property or services is at least $1,000 but less than $10,000, the person is guilty of a felony and faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Section 7-104(g)(1)(i). In addition, the guilty party must either restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or pay the owner the value (market value) of what was stolen. Section 7-104(g)(1)(i).

If a person is guilty of theft where the value of the property or services is at least $10,000 but less than $100,000, the person is guilty of a felony and faces up to 15 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000. Section 7-104(g)(1)(ii). In addition, the guilty party must either restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or pay the owner the value (market value) of what was stolen. Section 7-104(g)(1)(ii).

If a person is guilty of theft where the value of the property or services is at least $100,000 the person is guilty of a felony and faces up to 25 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000. Section 7-104(g)(1)(iii). In addition, the guilty party must either restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or pay the owner the value (market value) of what was stolen. Section 7-104(g)(1)(iii).

Misdemeanor Theft

If a person is guilty of theft where the value of the property or services is less than $1,000 then the guilty party faces up to 18 months in prison and/or a fine of up to $500. Section 7-104(g)(2)(i). In addition, the guilty party must either restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or pay the owner the value (market value) of what was stolen. Section 7-104(g)(2)(ii).

If a person is guilty of theft where the value of the property or services is less than $500 then the guilty party faces up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500. Section 7-104(g)(3)(i). In addition, the guilty party must either restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or pay the owner the value (market value) of what was stolen. Section 7-104(g)(3)(ii).

If a person, with at least two prior convictions for theft, is guilty of theft where the value of the property or services is less than $1,000 then the guilty party faces up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000. Section 7-104(g)(4)(i). In addition, the guilty party must either restore the stolen property to the rightful owner or pay the owner the value (market value) of what was stolen. Section 7-104(g)(4)(ii).

If the individual is guilty of theft because the individual failed to pay for gasoline after dispensing the gasoline into a vehicle, then the individual’s driver’s license may be suspended (see Section 16-206.1). Section 7-104(h)(1).

Motor Vehicle Theft Section 7-105

It is illegal for a person to (1) intentionally (2) remove a motor vehicle from the owner’s custody, control, or use (3) without the owner’s authorization. Section 7-105(b).

If an individual violates this section, then the individual faces a felony conviction with up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000, in addition to an obligation to restore the vehicle to the rightful owner or pay the owner the full value of the vehicle. Section 7-105(c).

Bad Checks (Theft) Section 7-107

If an individual issues a bad check, the individual will most likely neither be guilty of nor prosecuted for theft. Rather, the individual must write a bad check while (1) falsely representing that there are sufficient funds in the account to cover the amount of the check, and (2) the individual must do this through deception as described in Section 7-104(b) or Section 7-104(e) (both explained under “Theft” above). Section 7-107(a).

If an individual meets those two conditions, then the individual will be prosecuted for theft and will face the penalties outlined in the section for theft under Section 7-104(g).

Prohibited and Permitted Defenses to Theft Charges Section 7-110

It is not a defense that the individual stole the property from another person who acquired the property by illegal means. Put differently, it is not a defense that a person stole stolen property. Section 7-110(b)(1).

Nonetheless, there are some defenses to the crime of theft that are allowed.

First, it is a permissible defense that the charged individual acted under a good faith claim of right to the property involved. Section 7-110(c)(1).

Second, it is permissible to use the defense that the charged person honestly believed he or she had the right to obtain the property or exert control over the property in the manner that the person did. Section 7-110(c)(2).

Third, it is a permissible defense that the rightful owner of the property is the charged person’s spouse unless the charged person and his or her spouse were not living together as husband and wife at the time of the theft. Section 7-110(c)(3).

Fourth, it is a permissible defense that in a case of theft of a trade secret, the person charged with theft already rightfully knew the trade secret or had access to the trade secret from a source other than the owner. Section 7-110(c)(4).

How a Maryland Theft Lawyer Can Help

These theft offenses are accompanied by severe fines and jail or prison time. Furthermore, many of these offenses require the government to prove elements of intent. If you have been charged with theft or a theft-related offense, it is not hopeless. Contact a Maryland theft lawyer too.