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What to do if You Have Been Accused of Shoplifting in Maryland

Have you been charged with shoplifting in Maryland? Even something as minor as stealing a candy bar on a dare can result in serious legal consequences. The state of Maryland takes shoplifting seriously, which is why you need a knowledgeable Charles County criminal defense attorney. In addition to criminal charges, store owners may sue you in civil court for compensation.

Prosecuting Shoplifting Cases

Shoplifting falls under theft, which is when you take something from a person or entity without their permission. In order for the prosecution to be successful in a conviction, they have to prove the defendant’s intent.

The prosecutor will need to show you intended to deprive the merchant of property and that you used or concealed the property in such a manner that it was likely to deprive the owner or actually did deprive the owner. You can be charged and convicted of shoplifting even if you did not actually leave the store with the item. For example, if you had merchandise hidden and the prosecutor can prove you had the intention to take the merchandise without paying for it.

Penalties for Shoplifting

The penalty for shoplifting will depend on how much the property was valued at. Examples include:

  • Value $100 or less is a misdemeanor, with up to $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail
  • Value $100 to $1,000 is misdemeanor, with up to $500 fine and/or 18 months in prison
  • Value $1,000 to $10,000 is a felony with up to $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison
  • Value $10,000 to $10,0000 is a felony with up to $15,000 fine and 15 years in prison
  • Value exceeds $100,000 is a felony with $25,000 fine and 25 years in prison

Someone with prior convictions will be subject to stiffer penalties. For example, someone with two or more prior convictions who is charged with theft of property that is valued at $1,000 or less will be facing a fine of up to $5,000 instead of $500 and up to five years in prison instead of 18 months.

Preparing a Shoplifting Defense

Preparing a strong defense is key in a Maryland shoplifting case. There are several defenses to shoplifting, and your criminal defense attorney will work hard to get your charges reduced or dismissed entirely. One possible defense to shoplifting is that you did not have the intent to steal the property. If you accidentally put something in your bag because you needed to grab your child or take a call, a skilled attorney would argue that you never intended to take the item in the first place.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

Even in situations in which there is enough evidence that the prosecution can likely get a conviction, your attorney can work to get the charges reduced. Challenging the value of the items taken is one way. First-time offenders may qualify for a diversion program or even probation before judgement instead of facing a conviction. It is imperative to retain the best Charles County criminal defense attorney possible. If you have been arrested for shoplifting, contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro today at 301-705-5137 to schedule an initial consultation.