Wheaton Theft Defense Lawyers
Defending Clients Accused of Shoplifting, Embezzlement & All Forms of Theft
Being accused of a theft crime can have devastating consequences. An accusation alone can result in serious damage to your reputation, loss of employment, and other life-altering consequences. A conviction for a theft crime can result in ostracization within your community, loss of future employment opportunities, and loss of freedom.
If you have been accused of any type of theft, from shoplifting to embezzlement, it is critical that you speak to an experienced theft crime defense lawyer in Wheaton right away. Turn to the award-winning team at Portner & Shure, P.A. for aggressive advocacy and zealous defense backed by 25+ years of legal experience.
Don’t wait! Contact our team today at (240) 233-2801 or submit an online request form to schedule a confidential consultation at no cost to you.
Maryland Theft Law
The Maryland theft statute covers a range of activities including shoplifting, embezzlement and larceny. Additionally, the crime of theft is not limited to property. The item being stolen does not have to be tangible and can include services.
The elements of theft are willful, knowing, and unauthorized control of the property of another person or entity provided that the accused has the intention of taking the property; or purposely conceals or abandons the property or shows the intention to conceal or abandon the property.
What are the penalties for theft in Maryland?
The potential penalties for theft vary based on the value of the property. The potential penalties include:
- 90 days for an item or service valued less than $100.00
- 6 months for an item or service valued at $100.00 but less than $1,500.00
- 5 years for an item or service valued at $1,500.00 but less than $25,000.00
- 10 years for an item or service valued at $25,000.00 but less than $100,000.00
- 20 years for an item or service valued at $100,000.00 or more
The value of an item or service is based on the market value of the item or service at the time the theft occurred. If the market value cannot be determined, the value for the cost of a replacement within a reasonable time following the crime determines the value.
Shoplifting is among the most common type of theft crime. Shops have free-hanging merchandise which presents easy targets for would-be thieves. While thieves often steal low valued merchandise under the assumption that the low value will likely result in minimal penalties, the States’ Attorney has the option for charging theft based on each piece or merchandise, or one theft under the theft scheme doctrine. Stated more clearly, if a person steals 100 items valued at $100.00 each, they can be charged with 100 counts of theft for items valued less than $100.00. This carries a potential penalty of 90 days per charge. Alternatively, an accused individual could be charged with one count of theft for an item valued between $1,500 but less than $25,000, which carries a potential penalty of 10 years. Stated simply, the value of the items is aggregated, which enhances the penalty.
Embezzlement is a type of white-collar theft crime that involves intentionally stealing or misappropriating property or funds from an employer, business partner, or another person/party with whom the alleged offender has a financial relationship. A financial relationship, also known as a “fiduciary relationship,” exists when a person trust another to handle funds, property, or other valuable items. For example, a banker and a client have a fiduciary duty, whereas the owner of a store and a customer do not.
Defenses to Theft Crime Charges in Maryland
People accused of theft—or any type of crime, for that matter—often mistakenly believe they have to prove their innocence. This is not the case. Stated simply, the State of Maryland has to prove that an accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. With regard to theft, the State of Maryland has to prove all the elements of theft beyond a reasonable doubt.
The state’s burden and the United States’ Constitution present several types of defenses. A thorough review of the evidence can reveal that the state may not be able to prove their case. For example, the state’s case may be weak, may have inconclusive evidence, or may rely on an unreliable witness. Additionally, the state’s case may be comprised of physical evidence or statements that were gathered illegally by the police.
With regard to the theft, several statutory defenses are available. An accused individual can present evidence that they have a good faith claim of ownership to the property. By asserting this defense, an accused individual is essentially arguing that they were authorized to possess the property. Another defense an accused individual can present evidence that they honestly believed that they had a right to the property. Essentially, an accused individual is arguing that they made a mistake in thinking that they could possess the property.
Charged With a Theft Crime? We Can Help.
Whether you are facing charges of larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, or any other type of theft, Portner & Shure, P.A. can help you to protect your rights and your future. It is critical that you contact us as soon as possible so that our Wheaton theft crime lawyers can begin immediately building a defense on your behalf based on the facts of the case and all applicable evidence.
Portner & Shure, P.A. has earned a reputation for excellence within the legal community. Our firm has been named as one of Maryland’s “10 Best Law Firms” by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys of 2020, and we have earned countless five-star reviews from our past clients.
Call us at (240) 233-2801 or contact us online today to request your free initial consultation.
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