In Maryland, the theft statute encompasses a large variety of offenses. Theft can be found where one actually took someone else’s property, where fraud or undue influence was used to obtain control over another’s property, or simply being in receipt of stolen goods. You can even be charged if you were simply with someone who committed theft.
Maryland’s theft charges are structured in conjunction with the value of the alleged stolen property, so the higher the alleged value the greater the potential sentence. Theft under $100.00 is considered “petty theft,” but it still carries a potential sentence of 90 days in jail. Theft between $100 and $1500, a misdemeanor, carries a potential sentence of six (6) months incarceration for a first offender. A second offender faces a maximum possible sentence of one (1) year in jail. Theft of property over $1,500.00 and more is a felony, and the sentences range from 5-20 years.
In Maryland, you can also be charged with theft “scheme.” This charge would arise where the person is alleged to have committed theft over a certain period of time in a consistent manner. An example of where one could be charged with theft scheme could be where an employee repeatedly stole money from the register or merchandise from the stock room.
One major problem in theft cases is that statements made to loss prevention officers while detained are not safeguarded like statements made to police officers in the same setting. It is not uncommon for the employer to not only get a confession, but to have the employee sign a promissory note for a certain sum of money on the same day that he or she has been accused of stealing. You have the right to consult legal counsel before talking with your employer and/or the loss prevention officer. You should never be bullied into signing a confession. An attorney can help from the moment you are accused. However, even if someone did confess to his or her employer or its staff, the State must still prove its case in court and an attorney can be extremely helpful.
A common defense to theft is that one had an honest belief that he or she had the right to possess the property allegedly stolen. Also, where there are multiple persons being accused of stealing property, it is a defense if one of the accused did not know that the other person intended to steal the property and did not assist that person in stealing it.
Being found guilty of theft can be life changing. It cannot only lead to jail time, but to fewer employment prospects after being convicted. The attorneys at Ortega Law have the experience you need to get the best outcome possible. Contact us today for a free consultation.