Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes in the US — 1 out of every 11 Americans (anonymously) admits that they’ve shoplifted at least once. Like many other crimes, shoplifting has several levels of severity that escalate with the value of the item(s). Shoplifters could also find themselves facing penalties for repeat offenses. A shoplifting charge may not seem serious, but it can come with a heavy “price” that can cost you jail time and fines as well.
When it comes to shoplifting laws in Maryland, it is important to know your rights and every step of the process if you are charged. This article will go over what the differences are between misdemeanor and felony shoplifting charges and the penalties that follow.
Maryland’s Definition of Shoplifting
Shoplifting in Maryland is a consolidated legal term and falls under standard theft laws (Criminal Law § 7–104) that include shoplifting, false pretenses, receiving stolen property, and larceny. Shoplifting is a premeditated crime — meaning that the person had pre-existing intent and willingly stole goods from a business. This is a crime where the person knowingly tries to take control- or deprive another person of their property without their permission. Intent is enough to convict in Maryland and just having intention to steal can get fined, if not charged with shoplifting.
Maryland’s shoplifting laws also refer to the purchase of stolen merchandise. Someone can be held accountable and liable if:
- The items were known or believed to be stolen
- The person acts in a way that denies the property to the owner.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Maryland
When determining the severity of the penalty for shoplifting, Maryland uses the full retail value of the merchandise that was stolen. The greater the value of the goods that were stolen (or attemptedly stolen) the greater the potential the person has for a penalty, which can include fines and jail time.
Misdemeanor Shoplifting Penalties
A person who steals goods worth less than $100 can be charged with a low-level misdemeanor. The penalties for such a low-level offense can include imprisonment for up to 90 days and a fine of up to $500, but usually no jail time is served if it is your first offense for a smaller item.
When a person is charged with a high-level misdemeanor, it means they stole or tried to steal goods worth more than $100, but less than $1500. The penalties can include up to six months jail time and a fine of up to $500.
For second and subsequent high-level misdemeanor offenses, the jail time can increase to as much as one year.
Felony Shoplifting Penalties
When a person steals goods worth $1,500 or more, then that is treated as a felony offense. If the amount stolen is under $25,000, then the maximum punishment is five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
The penalties increase if the total value of the stolen property is over $25,000 but less than $100,000. This is the mid-range felony and punishment for this can include up to ten years in prison and a fine up to $15,000.
The highest-level felony theft penalties are charged when the stolen goods have a total value of $100,000 or more. These penalties can include prison for up to 20 years and a fine of up to $25,000.
Defenses for Shoplifting in Maryland
If you feel you have been wrongly accused, there are defenses that can stand up in court. A proper attorney can help you understand these defenses better and the charges you have against you. Seeking council, especially if you’re looking at felony charges, is always advised.
Quality Legal Representation That Advocates for Your Rights
The best defense is a good offense. If you are facing shoplifting charges, seeking help from an experienced criminal lawyer early on in the process can make a significant difference.
Jeremy Widder Law is a Maryland-based law firm specializing in protective orders and minor offenses, substance-related offenses, property crimes and non-violent felonies, as well as major offenses and violent felonies.
Getting charged with a crime can be intense and stressful. You deserve a lawyer who will listen and be your advocate. We are committed to walking with you from start to finish and giving your unique case the attention it deserves.
Contact Jeremy Widder Law for your consultation today.