Shoplifting or theft in Maryland is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by business owners in civil court to recover damages. Often referred to as treble damages.
What is Shoplifting Definition in Maryland
Maryland shoplifting laws fall under the general category of theft. Maryland Criminal Code § 7-104 criminalizes both the taking of property and the concealing of property in a manner that would deprive the owner of the property’s use or value.
Shoplifters in Maryland face jail time and fines. These progressively increase with the value of the stolen goods.
Shoplifters are also civilly liable to victimized merchants. Criminal and civil penalties for shoplifting in Maryland are described below.
Maryland Shoplifting Laws Criminal Penalties
|Theft of property valued at less than $100||Misdemeanor under §7–104(g)(3)||Jail time up to 90 days; a fine up to $500; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner|
|Theft of property valued at $100 to $1,000||Misdemeanor under §7–104(g)(2)||Jail time up to 18 months; a fine up to $500; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner|
|Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less with two or more prior convictions||Misdemeanor under §7–104(g)(4)||Jail time up to five years; a fine up to $5,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner|
|Theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000||Felony under §7–104(g)(1)(i)||Jail time up to 10 years; a fine up to $10,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner|
|Theft of property valued between $10,000 and $100,000||Felony under §7–104(g)(1)(ii)||Jail time up to 15 years; a fine up to $15,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner|
|Theft of property exceeding $100,000 in value||Felony under §7–104(g)(1)(iii)||Jail time up to 25 years; a fine up to $25,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner|
Maryland Shoplifting Laws and Civil Penalties
Adult and emancipated minor shoplifters (or the parents or legal guardians of unemancipated minors) are civilly liable to victimized merchants. The merchants can sue for:
- Retail value if the merchandise has lost value or is not recovered
- Certain other actual damages
- A penalty of twice the retail value of the merchandise, with a minimum penalty of $50 and a maximum of $1000
Maryland Shoplifting As a Felony
Because shoplifting and theft crimes as a whole are based upon the amount stolen, a shoplifting charge doesn’t become a felony until the amount is greater than $1000. That also carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. It is worth noting that all theft cases involving shoplifting start off in District Court and the District Court of Maryland has concurrent jurisdiction, even if you are charged with a felony shoplifting charge. Finally, keep in mind that the value can accumulate over time. For example, If a defendant is accused of multiple thefts from the same store, it could increase the charges to a felony level.
Probation Before Judgment and Plea Bargaining
If you don’t know what a PBJ is, read here first. Some Maryland counties offer diversion programs, especially to juveniles. For certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes, they may offer probation before judgment programs.
As part of these programs, the accused must complete court-mandated requirements. This could include:
- community service
- and a period of probation
Upon successful completion of the program requirements, the criminal charges will be dropped.
There is a difference between diversion and deferred judgment programs in Maryland. To participate in a deferred judgment program, the accused must first:
- plead guilty, or no contest
- or be found guilty of the crime
These are usually not a requirement for participation in diversion programs.
When diversion and probation before judgment programs are not available, the accused may be able to negotiate a plea arrangement with the prosecutor. Prosecutors have the discretion to offer plea deals involving lesser charges or lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea. However, they are under no obligation to offer such options and may do so only when they believe leniency is appropriate given the circumstances.
Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.
First Offense Shoplifting
When a defendant gets caught for the first time committing a shoplifting, an attorney can be extremely helpful in obtaining a great result. Theft convictions will saddle a defendant for life and can make future employment difficult in many industries, which is why it would be important to get an attorney involved immediately to get ahead of any case.
Getting a Shoplifting Attorney
If you have been accused of shoplifting in the state of Maryland, it is highly recommended that you get a shoplifting attorney. A qualified criminal lawyer can assist you in:
- exploring your options, such as pursuing diversion programs
- raising defenses
- or negotiating a plea bargain
Allowing you to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge. Contact ENLawyers NOW to schedule a free consultation so that we can help minimize the impact of this traumatic experience on your life.