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Published on 7/2/2024, 3:31:00 PM

What is a Theft Scheme Charge in Maryland?

Theft scheme charges in Maryland are serious legal accusations that involve a continuing course of conduct in which multiple thefts are committed by the same individual. The value of the stolen property can be aggregated to elevate the severity of the charge, leading to higher penalties. Understanding the intricacies of this charge and the importance of legal representation is essential if you find yourself facing this allegation.

Understanding Theft Scheme

A theft scheme refers to a series of thefts committed by the same person as part of an ongoing plan or scheme. Under Maryland law, the value of the stolen property from these thefts can be combined to determine the total amount, which influences the severity of the charge. For example, if someone steals $500 worth of goods from a store on multiple occasions, the total value can be aggregated, potentially leading to a felony charge once the value exceeds $1,500.

Legal Definition

Theft in Maryland is defined under Md. Code, Crim. Law Section 7-104, which states that a person may not willfully or knowingly obtain or exert unauthorized control over property if they intend to deprive the owner of it. This includes using, concealing, or abandoning the property in a manner that deprives the owner of its use. There are many different ways to prove theft and this leads to many different available defenses, depending on the

Aggregating Values

When theft is committed as part of a theft scheme, the value of the stolen property can be aggregated. This means that multiple smaller thefts can be combined to reach a higher total value, which can elevate the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony. This is particularly significant in retail theft or shoplifting cases, where the cumulative value of stolen items over time can lead to more severe penalties.

Classification and Penalties

The penalties for theft scheme charges vary based on the total value of the stolen property:

  • **Under $100 **: Classified as a misdemeanor, with penalties including up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500 for a first offense.
  • $100 to $1,500: Classified as a misdemeanor, with penalties including up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $500 for a first offense.
  • $1,500 to $25,000: Classified as a felony, with penalties including up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
  • $25,000 to $100,000: Also a felony, with penalties including up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $15,000.
  • Over $100,000: Classified as a felony with the most severe penalties, including up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

Understanding these classifications is crucial for anyone facing theft scheme charges, as the potential consequences can be life-altering.

Theft Schemes and Shoplifting

Theft schemes are commonly charged in shoplifting cases where a person repeatedly shoplifts from the same store multiple times. This can lead to serious felony charges for a series of minor thefts. Big box stores like Target and Walmart have started to employ technology like facial recognition to identify repeated thefts at the same location and often employ Loss Prevention Officers (LPOs) who are willing to file citizen filed criminal charges for thefts across Maryland.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Facing a theft scheme charge can be overwhelming and stressful. The legal system is complex, and the stakes are high, especially when your freedom and future are on the line. Here are several reasons why hiring an experienced attorney is essential:

Expertise in Theft Cases

An attorney specializing in theft cases will have a deep understanding of Maryland's laws and legal procedures. They can provide you with knowledgeable advice and representation, ensuring that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Developing a Defense Strategy

A skilled attorney can develop a robust defense strategy tailored to the specifics of your case. This might involve challenging the evidence presented by the prosecution, demonstrating that the thefts were not part of a single scheme, or negotiating a plea deal to reduce the charges and penalties.

Navigating the Legal System

The legal system can be intimidating, especially for those unfamiliar with its workings. An attorney can guide you through each step, from the initial arrest to court appearances and potential sentencing. Their expertise can help ensure that you understand your options and make informed decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a theft scheme in Maryland?

A theft scheme refers to a series of thefts committed by the same person as part of an ongoing scheme or plan. The value of the stolen property from these thefts can be combined to determine the total amount, which influences the severity of the charge.

Is theft scheme considered a felony in Maryland?

Theft scheme can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony in Maryland, depending on the total value of the stolen property. If the value exceeds $1,500, it is generally classified as a felony.

What are the penalties for a theft scheme charge?

Penalties for a theft scheme charge vary based on the total value of the stolen property and can range from up to 90 days in jail and fines for values less than $100, to up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $25,000 for values over $100,000.

How can an attorney help with a theft scheme charge?

An attorney can provide expert legal advice, develop a defense strategy, and represent you in court. They can help ensure that your rights are protected and work to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Can the value of stolen property be combined in a theft scheme charge?

Yes, in a theft scheme charge, the value of the stolen property from multiple thefts can be combined to determine the total amount, which influences the severity of the charge.

Conclusion

Theft scheme charges in Maryland are serious and require careful consideration and expert legal representation. Understanding the nature of the charge, its potential consequences, and the importance of hiring an attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. If you are facing a theft scheme charge, contact FrizWoods LLC today to learn how we can assist you in navigating the legal system and protecting your rights.