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THEFT

FREDERICK THEFT DEFENSE LAWYERS

Accused of Shoplifting, Embezzlement, or Another Type of Theft? We Can Help!

Simply being accused of shoplifting or another theft crime can have serious consequences and negatively impact your life. Even worse, a theft crime conviction may result in the loss of future employment opportunities, loss of freedom, and ostracization with your community.

When you are accused of any type of theft—such as embezzlement, shoplifting, larceny—it is essential that you retain the services of an experienced Frederick theft criminal defense attorney. Rely on the award-winning defense team at Portner & Shure, P.A. to aggressively advocate on your behalf and put forth a zealous defense.

There is no time to waste, contact our team today at (240) 770-0509 or submit an online request form to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Maryland Theft Law

The Maryland theft statute now incorporates the separate crimes formerly known as larceny, larceny by trick, larceny after trust, embezzlement, false pretenses, shoplifting, and receiving stolen property.

Under Maryland statute, a person may not obtain control over property by willfully or knowingly using deception, if the person:

  • Intends to deprive the owner of the property;
  • Willfully or knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the property in a manner that deprives the owner of the property; or
  • Uses, conceals, or abandons the property knowing the use, concealment, or abandonment probably will deprive the owner of the property.

Maryland law also applies to services. Maryland law states a person may not obtain the services of another that are available only for compensation:

  • By deception, or
  • With the knowledge that the services are provided without the consent of the person providing them.

An experienced theft defense attorney in Frederick will review the facts of your incident and evaluate if all of the requisite elements of theft are present.

Penalties for Theft in Maryland

Under Maryland Criminal Code § 7-104, the potential penalties for theft vary based on the value of the property.

For example, punishments for theft of the following include:

  • Item or service valued at less than $100.00 (Misdemeanor Theft): 90 days and/or a fine of $500 and shall restore the property to the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or service.
  • Item or service valued between $100 and $1,500 (Misdemeanor Theft): Shall return the property to the owner or pay the owner the value of the property or services, and
    • First conviction: up to six months in prison, and/or a fine up to $500.
    • Second or subsequent conviction: up to one year in prison, and/or a fine up to $500.
  • Service or item valued between $1,500 and $25,000 (Felony Theft): Up to 5 years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine and shall restore the property taken or pay the owner the value of the property or services.
  • Item or service valued between $25,000 and $100,000 (Felony Theft): Up to 10 years in prison and/or up to a $15,000 fine and shall restore the property or pay the owner the value of the property or services.
  • Item or service valued over $100,000 (Felony Theft): Up to 20 years in prison and/or up to a $25,000 fine and shall restore the property taken or pay the owner the value of the property or services.

In addition to the penalties listed above, if a person has a prior record of theft then additional penalties may apply.

The value of an item or service is premised on the market value of the item when the theft occurred. To the extent the market value cannot be determined, the value for the cost of a replacement within a reasonable time following the theft determines the value.

Shoplifting

The crime of shoplifting is incorporated under the Maryland theft statute. Theft is defined as a crime consisting of the intentional taking (without legal basis), of the personal property of another, with the unlawful intent of depriving the owner of such property.

Individuals may steal low-value merchandise under the assumption that because of the low price it will result in minimal penalties. This is not necessarily true. If a person steals multiple items valued at $100.00, the States’ Attorney has the option of aggregating the items together (and enhancing the penalty) or charging for each individual item separately.

If you are convicted under the Maryland theft statute based on a failure to pay for gas (i.e., failure to pay for motor fuel), in addition to the consequences outlined above, you may have your license suspended under § 16-206.1 of the Transportation Article. Additionally, the MVA may impose additional consequences. An experienced Frederick criminal defense lawyer will assist you in navigating this multifarious area of the law.

Embezzlement

The crime of embezzlement is a separate statutory offense. This white-collar crime involves intentionally stealing or feloniously appropriating the property of another, while it was rightfully in the possession of the accused. Typically, while the accused obtained the property lawfully (i.e., it was intentionally given to him or her), it was provided for a particular purpose, and not used for the intended purpose.

Embezzlement involves the funds or property of a business partner, or employer, or another person/party with whom the accused has a financial relationship. A financial relationship, often referred to as a “fiduciary relationship,” exists when a person entrusts another with his or her funds, property, or other valuable items. For example, there is a fiduciary relationship between a banker and a bank client.

The essential elements of this crime are intent to misappropriate the funds and actual execution. This means that the accused must have actual possession before being convicted of embezzlement (or the crime may be considered larceny, but not embezzlement).

Defenses for Theft Crime Charges in Maryland

An experienced Frederick theft attorney will evaluate your case and see if any statutory defenses apply.

For example, it is a defense to the offense of theft that:

  • The defendant acted under a good faith claim of right to the property involved;
  • The defendant acted in the honest belief that he or she had the right to obtain or exert control over the property as he or she did;
  • The property involved was that of the defendant's spouse, unless the defendant and the defendant's spouse were not living together as a married couple and were living in separate residences at the time of the alleged theft; or
  • In cases of theft of a trade secret, that the defendant rightfully knew the trade secret or that it was available to the defendant from a source other than the owner.

Under all the statutory defenses for theft, the accused is essentially arguing that they made a mistake in thinking that they could possess the property.

Oftentimes people accused of theft (or any crime) mistakenly believe they must prove their innocence. However, in actuality, the state of Maryland must prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that every element of theft must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

A thorough review of the evidence in your case may reveal that the state cannot prove their case. This can happen if the state’s case is based on evidence or statements that were obtained illegally. Or, if the state’s case has inconclusive evidence or an unreliable witness. An experienced Frederick criminal theft lawyer will review your situation and work with you to present a strong defense.

Charged with a Theft Crime? Let Us Help You.

Regardless of what type of theft criminal charges you are facing (larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, etc.), Portner & Shure, P.A. will work tirelessly to protect your rights and your criminal record.

Once you are charged with a theft crime, it is essential that you contact us as soon as possible. This will allow our Frederick theft crime lawyers adequate time to build your defense.

We are experienced, and successful in what we do. Portner & Shure, P.A., has been named one of Maryland’s “10 Best Law Firms,” by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorney of 2020. In addition, we have earned countless five-star reviews from prior clients.

Call us at (240) 770-0509 or contact us online today to request your free initial consultation.

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