You saw it and you knew life was not worth living without it. So, you took it. Unfortunately, sticking a Millennium Falcon Quadcopter in your backpack did not make you a successful intergalactic smuggler. Now, you’ve been caught shoplifting and charged with theft. Welcome to the Dark Side.
If you’ve been charged with helping yourself to merchandise you sort of forgot to pay for, you may be saying, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” To find out just how worried you should be, keep reading.
The More It Costs, the More It’ll Cost You
Shoplifting is a theft crime. How much jail time and fines shoplifters face depends on the value of the stolen goods. For items like that awesome Millennium Falcon Quadcopter with a retail value under $100, you’re looking at jail time of up to 90 days and a fine up to $500. For merchandise valued at $100 to $1,000 you’re looking at a similar fine and 18 months in the slammer.
Did I hear you say “I’m not afraid”? Great, kid; don’t get cocky. Because you will be. Just keep on with your life of crime and the penalty keeps going up.
Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less with two or more prior convictions can earn you jail time up to five years and a fine up to $5,000. Steal property worth over $1,000 and we’re talking about a felony. It’s ten years for merchandise up to $10,000 and 15 years for stolen items up to $100,000. If you get really ambitious and manage to steal something worth more than $100,000, you face imprisonment of up to 25 years with a fine of $25,000.
Don’t Forget the Civil Penalties
You didn’t think the state was going to let you do your time and leave it at that, did you?
I find your lack of faith (in business lobbies) disturbing. In Maryland, businesses can recover from those charged with theft twice the price of the item that was stolen, up to $1,000. That’s right, not only do they get back their stolen item, they get double its price as well. First, the merchant’s attorney will send you a demand letter that, as the name implies, demands payment of this double penalty and threatens to sue you if you don’t comply. Can’t pay? Get ready for the lawsuit that follows, with extra damages thrown in. Oh, and don’t think you’re off the hook if it was your minor child who did the snatch-and-grab. Parents have to pay for their kids’ transgressions. Remember all that stuff you got away with as a kid? The circle is now complete.
Stay on Target
If you haven’t quite got the Kmart Run down to less than 12 parsecs and get stopped before you can make the jump to hyperspace with your bag full of dream toys—excuse me, collectibles—you should contact an attorney who knows how to put the Force on law enforcement. After all, traveling through the criminal justice system ain’t like dusting crops, farm boy.