Getting arrested and charged with a Maryland theft crime can lead to fines, probation, and even loss of liberty.
The process of getting arrested, booked, fingerprinted and forced into court to face a criminal charge can be traumatizing for anyone. Having a criminal record can impact your time, money, and reputation. Going to court can require you to take time off work. Having to explain to friends or co-workers can lead to embarrassment. Hiring the wrong attorney for a theft charge in Maryland can only make the situation worse.
Accordingly, its important to find a Maryland criminal defense lawyer with experience defending theft offenses. Its also important to find an attorney who has experience defending cases in the courthouse you are charged.
Maryland Theft Offenses
The Maryland Criminal Code lists five separate theft offenses. First, petty theft is a misdemeanor offense that typically encompasses the crime of shoplifting. The maximum penalty for petty theft is 90 days in jail and/or a $500.00 fine. Second, misdemeanor theft is a slightly more serious offense that carries a maximum penalty of 18 months in jail and/or a $400.00 fine. Misdemeanor theft involves the taking of property that has a value of $100.00 to $1,000.00.
The Maryland Criminal Code also lists felony theft offenses where the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000.00. For merchandise valued over $1,000.00 but less than $10,000.00 carries a legal maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. Theft of an item with a value greater than $10,000.00 but less than $100,000.00 carries a legal maximum penalty of 15 years in jail. Finally, for theft of items valued more than $100,000.00, the Maryland Criminal Code carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in jail.
Additional theft offenses exist for obtaining the money, goods, or services of another through deceptive means. In most cases, the State must prove that the accused intended to deprive the owner of their property. While its often difficult to prove one’s intent, the judge or jury will look to the surrounding circumstances to infer the defendant’s intent. For example, if someone conceals items down their pants and exits a retail store without paying, it is fairly easy to infer that the person intended to deprive the store of the property without paying. A case like that is not difficult for the government to prove.
Defenses to Maryland Theft Crimes
As in all criminal cases, the State must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, several defenses to theft crimes exist. These defenses include mistake or lack of criminal intent. In addition, theft requires that the property belong to another. Someone cannot be convicted for taking their own property. Other defenses may exist depending on the facts and circumstances surrounding the arrest.
Theft can take many forms and does not always occur in a retail setting involving shoplifting items without paying. The law also criminalizes possessing stolen property where the defendant knows the property was stolen. In addition, exercising control over another’s property by using deceptive means is also illegal.
Maryland Fraud Attorney
Fraud is a serious offense in Maryland. Getting arrested for fraud can similarly cause embarrassment, potential loss of liberty, fines, and/or restitution. Provisions of Maryland law make paying back double the value of the stolen goods part of restitution. If you or a friend or loved one have been arrested or are under investigation for fraud, its important to contact a qualified and experienced Maryland fraud lawyer.
The Maryland Criminal Code Title 8 sets out the requirements for convicting someone of a fraud offense. The law divides fraud in Maryland into different categories depending on the facts and circumstances of the offense. Writing bad checks, committing financial fraud, counterfeiting, credit card fraud, and identity fraud are all different type of fraud crimes in Maryland, among other categories. The Maryland Code also criminalizes healthcare fraud and public benefit fraud, which include things like unemployment insurance, Medicaid, and food stamps.
Penalties for Maryland Fraud Crimes
Two factors determine whether the fraud offense will be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. The first factor is the value of the goods obtained fraudulently. The second factor is the type of fraud used to obtain the money, goods, or services.
If the value of the goods or services obtained is above $500.00, the State usually charges the offense as a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail and/or a $25,000.00 fine. However, if you use someone’s identity to obtain goods or services valued at less than $500.00 then the State will charge the offense as a misdemeanor.
Hiring a Maryland Fraud and Theft Lawyer
Whether charged with fraud, theft, identity theft or another similar offense, its important to contact a qualified Maryland criminal defense lawyer. Attorney Morgan Leigh has experience representing individuals charged in Maryland courts for fraud and theft offenses. She is a tireless advocate who will fight aggressively to protect your rights. She regularly practices in Montgomery County and Prince George’s County. She also serves surrounding Maryland counties practicing in both District and Circuit courts.
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