Washington County Shoplifting Lawyer

While shoplifting is often a minor offense, a conviction for theft could still appear on background checks by prospective employers. They may consider you to have a history of dishonesty, making it more challenging for you to find a good job and improve your financial wellbeing. Shoplifting falls under the state general theft statute and covers a broad range of behaviors. A Washington County shoplifting lawyer could look at the facts surrounding your criminal charges and help determine the best way to defend you.

Shoplifting in Washington County

Under Md. Code, Crim. Law § 7-102, shoplifting is one of many forms of theft along with embezzlement, larceny, and receiving stolen property. Individuals commit theft whenever they:

  • Intend to deprive others of their property
  • Use, hide or leave the property behind to deprive the owners of it
  • Use, hide or abandon the property knowing that doing so probably will deprive the owners of the property of its benefit and usage

Additionally, using deception to carry out any of these intentions also constitutes theft under state law.

Washington County Shoplifting Penalties

Shoplifting or any form of theft can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances. The primary factor in determining the level of the charges and the penalties that individuals can face for shoplifting is the value of the property or services that were the subject of the shoplifting. State law also provides for a few exceptions in which the charges and penalties are based on the type of stolen property instead of its value.

Generally, shoplifting is a misdemeanor as long as the value of the property stolen is worth less than $1,500. Due to this limit, most shoplifting cases are misdemeanor offenses. If the property is worth less than $100, the accused individuals can face:

  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • $500 fines
  • An order to return the stolen property to its owner or pay restitution to the property owner in the amount of the value of the property

If the property is worth more than $100, but less than $1,500, then the potential penalties increase to a maximum of six months in jail and a $500 fine, plus restitution or return of the property to its owner. Any theft over $1,500 is considered a felony.

As a shoplifting conviction could result in significant jail time and monetary penalties, consulting a shoplifting lawyer in Washington County in this situation may be wise.

Enhanced Charges and Penalties for Shoplifting

Although less common, shoplifting can be a felony if the stolen property is worth $1,500 or more. If the property is worth between $1,500 and $25,000, defendants may face a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

Additionally, if persons accrue four or more theft convictions concerning property valued at less than $1,500, they can face significantly harsher sentences. The offense remains a misdemeanor, but the potential prison sentence increases to five years with a $5,000 fine. By enlisting the help of a local defense attorney, an accused party may have a better chance of overcoming or reducing the shoplifting charges that they are facing.

A Washington County Shoplifting Attorney Could Help You

With an experienced Washington County shoplifting lawyer to assist you, you may place yourself in a stronger position to fight back against these criminal charges. You may be able to avoid a criminal record or the harshest penalties available for the offense.

Getting legal help is often crucial to a favorable outcome in any criminal case. Instead of trying to handle this grave matter on your own, consult those who handle these types of cases every day by calling now and scheduling a consultation.