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Theft Defense Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

Criminal charges, no matter how minor, should always be taken seriously and handled by a professional. Additionally, anyone who’s facing accusations of a crime needs to know that working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is the single best step they can take to ensure their interests are protected, and this is true whether or not you feel you’re guilty.  

If you’ve recently been arrested for a theft crime, either at the misdemeanor or felony level, Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law can help you learn more about your options. From her main office in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Kathleen represents clients throughout Queen Anne's County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, and Howard County. 

Theft Charges

Technically, a criminal theft charge means that one person has deprived another of their personal property in some way. This can cover acts as seemingly minor as shoplifting to grand theft, and fraud. Under Maryland’s state law, theft crimes are described as someone “willfully or knowingly” taking “unauthorized control over property.” This could include: 

  • Hiding or abandoning property that belongs to someone else. 

  • Deceiving someone into handing over their property to you. 

  • Being in possession of or receiving stolen property that you know of or believe to be stolen.  

  • Buying or selling goods that you know of or believe to be stolen property. 

  • Controlling property that has been mislaid, lost, or delivered to you by mistake (for example, the post office or other mail delivery service delivers a package to the wrong address). 

  • Obtaining services from someone without properly compensating them.  

Another component of a theft charge will be whether it’s classified as a felony or misdemeanor. Typically, any theft of an item or service that’s valued at under $1,000 is considered a misdemeanor (classified as either “petty theft” or “misdemeanor theft”) under state law. Theft of items or services valued over $1,000 is considered a felony in Maryland. 

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Shoplifting Charges

Shoplifting (sometimes called merchandise theft) is usually treated a little differently than other theft charges, but this doesn’t mean that it should be taken lightly. Shoplifting is a type of theft where someone takes merchandise from a business and in Maryland, the laws surrounding it are included with larger theft provisions. Shoplifting can include physically taking items out of a store without purchasing them as well as changing or removing tags on an item to purchase it for a lower amount. 

Maryland also allows something called “shopkeeper’s privilege” which essentially lets business owners detain suspected shoplifters if they can show probable cause. And, in addition to the penalties for theft from the state, you may also be liable for reimbursing the shopkeeper for twice the value of the stolen goods.  

Possible Penalties for Theft Charges

In most cases, the higher the value of goods that were stolen the more severe the penalties will be. That said, there are other factors that can contribute to the possible sentence including how many past convictions you have and whether the crime was aggravated. Possible penalties include: 

  • fines 

  • jail time 

  • community service 

  • restitution to the person or business that was stolen from 

  • probation 

Common Theft Defenses

When you first meet with your criminal defense attorney, they will ask you a lot of questions about your charges and the incident itself.  

Then, they will thoroughly analyze all evidence and use this to prepare your possible theft defenses. This will be different for each defendant and until your case is properly evaluated, there’s no way to tell exactly what defense option will work best for you. That said, there are several choices that may be considered which can include: 

  • Mistaken Fact: This is the most straightforward defense option and essentially means that you didn’t actually steal what you were accused of stealing. Perhaps your accuser identified the wrong person, or the thing you were purported to have stolen you never took. 

  • Lack of Intent: With this defense, you’ll be arguing not that you didn’t take the property, but that you didn’t realize you were stealing it or you thought you had authorization to take it. 

  • Intoxication: This defense won’t always work, and if it does it may still mean that you’ll face some penalties though hopefully they won’t be as stiff. If you can prove that you weren’t of “sound mind” the prosecution will have trouble proving intent. 

  • Return of property: This defense will not help you get your charges dropped and it doesn’t negate the fact that you did actually steal something. However, if you do return the goods you stole, it may work to build sympathy with the judge or jury who may, in turn, choose a lesser sentence for you. 

Theft Defense Attorney in Anne Arundel County, Maryland

If you would like to speak with a qualified lawyer about your option for defending theft charges, contact Kathleen M. Kirchner Attorney At Law to schedule a free initial consultation. From her Anne Arundel County law firm, Kathleen represents Maryland clients throughout Queen Anne's County, Calvert County, Prince George's County, and Howard County.