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THEFT crimes


Defense Against Theft & Shoplifting Charges

An accusation of theft can turn a person’s life upside down. An accusation alone can lead to the loss of an individual’s reputation in the community. The consequences of a conviction are even worse, though. A conviction for theft can result in a lifelong criminal record, loss of employment, loss of future employment opportunities, and incarceration.

In order to prepare a strong defense that gives you hope for tomorrow, count on our award-winning attorneys at Portner & Shure, P.A. We have been successfully defending individuals accused of theft in Bel Air for more than 30 years. Let us do the same for you, too.

Call our Bel Air theft attorneys at (410) 286-1999 right now.

Maryland Theft Law

Maryland law defines theft as willfully and knowingly obtaining unauthorized control of another person’s property with the intent to permanently keep the property. The value of the item or property determines the potential penalties upon conviction. Stealing services is also technically theft.

For an individual accused of theft, the potential incarceration penalties range from:

  • 90 days for an item or service valued at less than $100
  • 6 months for an item or service valued at less than $1,500
  • 5 years for an item or service valued between $1,500 and $25,000
  • 10 years for an item or service valued between $25,000 and $100,000
  • 20 years for an item or service valued over $100,000

The value of the property is based on its market value when the theft occurred. If the property’s market value cannot be determined, the value is determined by the cost of a replacement after a reasonable amount of time following the theft. There can also be steep fines tacked onto a theft sentencing.

Shoplifting Charges are Theft Charges, Too

Maryland theft law covers a variety of theft crimes, including shoplifting, which usually occurs inside a retail store or market. Shoplifting usually involves stealing a piece of merchandise valued under $100. The possible penalties for shoplifting can be confusing because the charges can be additive or separate.

For example, you are arrested for stealing 10 sets of earbuds, each valued at $99. The prosecution can try to charge you for 10 counts of shoplifting or petty theft. Or they can file a single charge of theft for property valued at less than $1,000, which carries steeper possible penalties.

What is Embezzlement?

A person can be charged with embezzlement when a fiduciary relationship exists between the accused and the owner of the property. An individual who enters a store and steals merchandise cannot legally be charged with embezzlement because they do not owe this duty to the store owner. However, an employee who steals money from the store can be charged with embezzlement because they were put in charge of protecting that money as part of their employment. The penalties for embezzlement are the same as theft (see above).

Defenses We Can Use in Your Name

You are innocent until proven guilty when charged with theft, shoplifting, or embezzlement. A review of the evidence by our Bel Air, Maryland theft lawyers may reveal that the prosecution cannot prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This can be the start of our legal attack against them. For example, the facts of a case may indicate that the prosecution lacks evidence to prove intent or even that an actual taking occurred.

Several statutory defenses are available in theft cases, too. Specifically, a person can raise the defense that they have a good-faith claim of ownership to the property. Or a person can raise the defense that they honestly believed that they had a right to the property, like borrowing a friend’s car.

Award-Winning Criminal Defense Attorneys

The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys of 2020 recently recognized Portner & Shure, P.A. as one of Maryland’s “10 Best Law Firms” for criminal defense cases. This honor is not lost on our Bel Air theft defense attorneys, who strive to live up to it each and every day. We will always do our absolute best to defend our clients from the harsh and often unfair hand of the law!

You can dial (410) 286-1999 or contact us online if you want to know more about your rights as someone accused of theft in Maryland.


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