Maryland Penalties for Theft

The penalties for theft in Maryland really vary and it all comes down to the value. The minimum penalty would be 90 days and a $500 fine, while the maximum penalty would be as high as 25 years and a $25,000 fine.

Long Term Consequences of a Theft Conviction

A theft conviction is not just a conviction for an illegal act; it is also a conviction of you as an individual. Theft is an act that questions your moral character and questions your integrity. You can spend a lifetime building yourself up as a solid person in the community who does nothing but good, but the second you steal something, people are going to start questioning whether they can actually trust you anymore. They will think, “Yea, you’ve done all these great things, but you’re a thief. You’ve committed a fraudulent act, which shows that your moral character is less than believable.” That stigma is almost impossible to break.

What types of evidence does the state use when prosecuting a theft charge?

If they are going to prosecute, usually they are prosecuting a shoplifting charge. The state will have to show that the alleged individual had the goods on them, thus meaning they possessed them, and that they tried or attempted to take them out of the store. This would apply to anywhere where you can make a purchase, so anywhere where there is either a self-checkout or a regular checkout line, and you go through that line without paying. The realistic and logical conclusion in that scenario is that you are leaving with that property. If you possess those items, you attempt to leave the store, and when you are at the door you are then stopped by loss prevention or by an officer, the state would use that to prove that you did in fact possess the goods and intended to take them for your own.

How does the state go about proving a theft charge?

Seth Okin: A lot of places actually have very good video surveillance and that’s one of the things that will be used against you. There are also people that are hired by stores to act as theft prevention. They have officers that are undercover who will be shopping in the store like anybody else and walking around. They might have “police” or “loss prevention” printed somewhere on them, but they observe people. They might be watching from an aisle over and see you take something and put it in your purse or put it in your pocket. You continue shopping, not realizing that they saw you. In a lot of these cases, my clients did go through the checkout, but when they checked out they didn’t take certain things out of their pockets. In other cases something might have inadvertently slipped somewhere, and it really was inadvertent but they stop you and ask you to empty your pocket, purse, or bag, and there is that property that is not yours.