The offense of shoplifting may seem minor—after all, many kids shoplift on a “dare” or as a prank. However, whether someone steals a candy bar or a costly diamond necklace, the law in Maryland takes shoplifting very seriously.
Shoplifting is a relatively common criminal charge, especially during and after the holiday season. If you’ve been accused of shoplifting in Maryland, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to handle your case as soon as possible.
SHOPLIFTING CHARGES AND PENALTIES
In order to convict you of shoplifting under Maryland law, the prosecutor needs to prove the following were true:
You intended to deprive a store owner of the property. You concealed or used the property in a manner that was likely to deprive the owner or that actually did deprive the owner of the property. This means that you can be convicted of shoplifting even if you had not even left the store, so long as you had hidden merchandise and the prosecutor can prove your intent to take the merchandise without paying.
The maximum possible penalties for shoplifting in Maryland depend on the value of the property in question as follows:
- $100 or less – Misdemeanor charge, $500 fine, and/or 90 days in jail
- $100 to $1,000 – Misdemeanor charge, $500 fine, and/or 18 months in prison
- $1,000 to $10,000 – Felony charge, $10,000 fine, 10 years in prison
- $10,000 to $100,000 – Felony charge, $15,000 fine, 15 years in prison
- More than $100,000 – Felony charge, $25,000 fine, 25 years in prison
DEFENDING AGAINST SHOPLIFTING CHARGES
The good news is that an experienced defense lawyer can defend against shoplifting charges in many different ways. For example, one defense is that you did not have the requisite intent to shoplift. For example, if you accidentally placed an item in your purse so you could use your hands to answer a call or tend to a child, your attorney could argue that you never intended to take the item without paying.
Even if there is plenty of evidence that you shoplifted, your attorney can seek to have your charges reduced by challenging the value of the items taken. For first-time offenders, an attorney may qualify you for a diversion program or probation before judgment that can avoid a conviction on your record and end up with the dismissal of your charges. Even if a diversion program isn’t an option in your case, your lawyer can argue for probation instead of jail time and other reductions in your sentence in a plea bargain.
CALL A MARYLAND CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
Like any type of criminal allegation, shoplifting charges should always be taken seriously. The penalties can increase for multiple convictions, so you want to avoid any convictions whenever possible. The criminal defense lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC regularly defend against theft-related charges. If you would like to discuss your charges with a member of our legal team, please contact us online or call our office at 301-321-7277 today.