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.
Maryland Shoplifting Laws
Maryland law groups shoplifting 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 face jail time and fines which progressively increase with the value of the stolen goods.
In addition to criminal penalties, shoplifters are civilly liable to victimized merchants. Criminal and civil penalties are described below.
Maryland Shoplifting 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|
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; and a penalty of twice the retail value of the merchandise, with a minimum penalty of $50 and a maximum of $1000.
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, and probation before judgment programs, to certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes. As part of these programs, the accused must complete court-mandated requirements, which could include restitution, community service, and a period of probation. Upon successful completion of the program requirements, the criminal charges will be dropped.
A difference between diversion and deferred judgment programs in Maryland is that to participate in a deferred judgment program, the accused must first plead guilty, or no contest, or be found guilty of the crime, which is 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 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.
Getting Legal Help
If you have been accused of shoplifting in the state of Maryland, it is highly recommended that you get legal assistance from a lawyer. A qualified criminal lawyer can assist you in exploring your options, such as pursuing diversion programs, raising defenses, or negotiating a plea bargain, in order to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge. Contact ENLawyers NOW to schedule a free consutlation so that we can help minimize teh impact of this traumatic experience on your life.