Maryland Theft Lawyer
In Maryland, theft is an intent offense. You can be convicted only if a prosecutor is able to prove you purposefully tried to deprive a rightful owner of something that belongs to him. Arguing lack of intent is just one possible defense if you’ve been accused of a theft crime. A Maryland theft lawyer can help you to explore whether this or other defense is appropriate in your case, and can represent you as you try to avoid conviction or minimize consequences of a theft charge.
Types of Offenses
Dynamics of an Offense
Theft Laws in Maryland
Maryland has identified a variety of different the offenses including:
- General theft
- Motor vehicle theft
- Newspaper theft
- Writing bad checks
Within each of these code sections, the elements of the crime are described as well as potential penalties for the offense.
For example, general theft is defined by Code Section 7-104 to include willfully or knowingly exerting unauthorized control over someone else’s property; willfully or knowingly concealing someone else’s property; abandoning someone else’s property; or intentionally using someone else’s property. You not only must engage in one of these intentional behaviors, but your actions also must be motivated by a desire to deprive the rightful owner of something belonging to him.
General theft is also defined as:
- Using deception to gain control of someone else’s property, or to conceal, use, or abandon someone’s property to deprive the owner of the asset.
- Possessing property that you know is stolen.
- Taking control of lost, misdelivered or misplaced property if you don’t take reasonable steps to find the owner, if you know the identity of the owner and don’t return the property, and if you intend to deprive the owner of the property.
- Using deception to secure services you know require compensation or using services with knowledge that they are being provided without consent.
A Maryland theft lawyer can help you determine exactly what a prosecutor must prove for you to be found guilty of general theft, or of any theft offense, you are accused of committing.
Penalties for Theft in Maryland
Penalties for theft in Maryland generally rely on the value of the items stolen; however, if you are accused of the theft of specific items like a firearm or vehicle, the nature of the stolen items will impact potential consequences.
For general theft, taking items valued at $1,000 to less than $10,000 is a felony with the potential for 10 years in jail and a $10,000 fine. For items valued at $10,000 to less than $100,000, penalties could be up to 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. If the items taken are $100,000 or greater, conviction could mean 25 years incarcerated.
Theft of items valued at less than $1,000 will result in misdemeanor charges. If the stolen items are worth less than $100, the maximum fine is $500 and the maximum jail term is 90 days. If the items were valued at $100 to less than $1,000, possible penalties include up to 18 months incarceration and a $500 fine.
Repeat offenders may be subject to harsher penalties. A Maryland theft lawyer can help you determine the impact of any past criminal record on your current case.
Expectations of a Maryland Theft Lawyer
A person should expect the defense attorney to meet with them several times to get an understanding of the situation and what the potential issues are. They should also expect that the attorney is going to review the Statement of Charges, the discovery, the police report, and will conduct an analysis as to whether or not the state can actually prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each and every element of the crime.
The defense attorney will also discuss with the defendant any potential defenses that can be raised, whether the situation is a case of mistaken identity and the defendant was not anywhere near the theft when it took place. That is important to look into if there is evidence that can be brought forward to support an alibi.
A skilled attorney thinks about the best outcome for an individual. If an experienced defense attorney advises the defendant to plead not guilty and have a trial, they probably have enough information from the state to feel confident that they will prevail at a trial. If the defense attorney recommends the defendant to take a plea, there are probably too many facts against the defense and a trial would not end well.
How a Maryland Theft Lawyer Can Help
In many cases, stolen property is recovered as part of an illegal search. Evidence collected in violation of Fourth Amendment protections cannot be used to secure a conviction, and a Maryland theft lawyer can make a motion to suppress that evidence so it is not admissible in a trial.
When a prosecutor charges you with a crime, the burden is on the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If you can keep evidence out, raise questions about witness testimony, or argue there was no intent, you can typically avoid being convicted.
Your attorney can help you to do everything possible under the circumstances to get a not guilty verdict. If you don’t want to take a chance on a jury, your attorney can also work to negotiate a plea deal that may reduce consequences of admitting guilt. Call today to learn more about your options and about how a Maryland theft lawyer can help.