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Published on 6/20/2023, 2:14:00 PM

How to Beat a Theft Charge in Maryland

Understanding your charges is crucial, but it's equally important to know how to defend against them. Before we tackle how to beat your Maryland Theft case, first we must identify your charges.

Understanding Maryland Theft Charges

In Maryland, the consequences of a theft charge can be severe, and they vary significantly based on the specifics of the charge. Understanding these charges is the first step towards crafting a solid defense. Every Maryland theft case is different; however, this article will highlight some of the common ways that attorneys can help to beat a theft case.

Types of Theft Charges in Maryland

Theft charges in Maryland come in various forms, each with its own specific characteristics and penalties. Some of the most common theft cases include:

Theft of Goods / Shoplifting / "Petty Theft"

Maryland doesn't use terms like petty theft or grand theft. Instead, Maryland classifies theft based on the value of the item that was stolen, whether it involves shoplifting or theft of services. For example, theft under $100 is considered a misdemeanor and can carry a jail sentence of up to 90 days and a fine up to $500. Theft of between $100 to $1,500 is also a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of incarceration and a $500 fine.

Felony Theft in Maryland / "Grand Theft"

If the value of the stolen property is $1,500 or more, the crime is classified as a felony in Maryland, with the potential jail changing based on the value of what was taken. In Maryland, there is no specfic charge of grand theft; however, this term is commonly used by people charged with theft and other jurisdictions in the United States.

Felony theft in Maryland can be broken down as follows:

  • Theft of $1,500 to $25,000 Felony punishable by up to 5 years of incarceration and a $10,000 fine

  • Theft of $25,000 to $100,000 Felony punishable by up to 10 years of incarceration and a $15,000 fine

  • Theft over $100,000 Felony punishable by 20 years of incarceration and a $25,000 fine

Motor Vehicle Theft / Motor Vehicle Unlawful Taking

Stealing a motor vehicle is a severe offense in Maryland, and it is treated as a felony. Maryland Motor Vehicle theft requires that the State prove a person knowingly and willfully took a motor vehicle out of the owner's lawful custody, control, or use without the owner's consent. The maximum penalty for Motor Vehicle Theft in Maryland is a five year prison sentence and/or a $5,000.

Often a person charged with Motor Vehicle Theft can also be charged with Unauthorized Removal of Property, which states in part that without the permission of the owner, a person may not take and carry away a motor vehicle of another. This crime is a misdemeanor punishable by four years in jail and up to a $100 fine.

Embezzlement

Maryland has special charges for people who act fraudulently and willfully misappropriating funds for which they are a fiduciary. This charge is a misdemeanor which carries a maximum penalty of five years with a minimum sentence of one year.

Why am I charged with Theft and Motor Vehicle Theft?

Under Maryland Criminal Law, a person can often be charged with a specific type of theft along with a general theft charge related to the value of the goods taken. These charges usually merge; however, it's important to bring your Maryland Charging Document to a meeting with a criminal defense lawyer for more specific advice.

Common defenses in Maryland Theft Cases

Retaining a seasoned criminal defense attorney is crucial when facing a theft charge. Experienced attorneys like the team at FrizWoods LLC understand the nuances of Maryland theft laws and can provide the best defense. Here are some of the common defenses used against theft charges in MD:

1. Identity - No face no case.

Sometimes, the best defense is simply to assert that you didn't commit the crime! Many retail theft cases involve surveillance footage that is poor quality. It is the State's burden to prove every element of a theft charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

In every type of theft - identity is one of them.

2. Lack of Intent - I didn't want to steal anything

One of the most common types of theft requires an intent to deprive the owner of their property. If your lawyer can show that you lacked this intent, the charges may be dropped, or you may be acquitted at trial.

3. Asserting Rightful Ownership - It was mine to begin with

If you believed the property was yours, your attorney could argue that there was no theft. The State must prove who really owned the property at issue. Creating enough doubts about ownership could invalidate the State's theory that it was taken from its rightful owner.

4. Challenging a Statement or Search - The Police Violated my rights

Evidence in criminal cases often comes from Statements and/or searches. If a Defendant gives a statement, it can be suppressed by their attorney under certain situations.

Searches are also subject to suppression depending on the legal justification for the search. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to evaluate the legality of any searches and seizures in your case.

5. Offering restitution - Take the money.

Restitution refers to the losses sustained by a victim in a criminal case. Most theft cases are about money, and your attorney may be able to negotiate a STET in exchange for restitution.

6. Plea Bargaining - Reduce the charges.

In some cases, your attorney might negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, where you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge. In certain situations the State might even be willing to dismiss the charges.

Conclusion

Facing a theft charge in Maryland can be daunting, but understanding the charges and potential defenses can help you navigate this challenging situation. The most important step is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process and fight for your rights.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What's the difference between petty1. What's the difference between misdemeanor and felony theft?**

Misdemeanor theft involves property or items valued under $1,500, whereas felony theft involves property or items valued at $1,500 or more.

2. What are the penalties for auto theft in Maryland?

Auto theft in Maryland is considered a felony. It can result in up to five years in prison and fines of up to $5,000. It is also likely that a person charge with Auto theft is also charged with felony theft and unauthorized removal of property.

3. Can I beat a theft charge without a lawyer?

While technically possible, it's highly recommended to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney when facing theft charges. The legal system can be complex and confusing, and experienced legal representation can greatly increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

4. What does "lack of intent" mean in a theft case?

Lack of intent means that the accused didn't intend to commit the offense. If it can be raised, it can serve as a defense to certain theft charges.

5. What is a plea bargain, and when should I consider it?

A plea bargain is an agreement between the defense and the prosecutor, where the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge. Your attorney can guide you in deciding whether a plea bargain is in your best interest based on the specifics of your case.