Last August, visitors to SeaWorld Orlando got a little more bang for their buck during a session where parkgoers are allowed to interact with dolphins after a show. Video footage shows one of the dolphins lunging towards a woman who was holding an iPad. The marine mammal managed to pull the device into the tank, but let go after realizing that the case wasn’t waterproof. The perp, whose name was not released, was returned to his tank after intense questioning failed to reveal a malicious motive.

Okay, so, that last part might not have been true – but had anyone other than the dolphin grabbed that iPad, this story would have a different ending. Statutes vary from state to state, but if the dolphin had pulled this stunt in Maryland, he would definitely have been guilty of theft. Whether the crime counted as a misdemeanor or a felony would actually have depended on the iPad.
Maryland criminal statutes have a complicated description of theft. In short, theft is defined by: intentionally depriving someone of property; using property that is not yours in a way that deprives the owner of use; or knowingly possessing stolen property. Whether theft is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, and what the penalties are, depend on the dollar valuation of the goods stolen. Here’s how Maryland does it:

  • Misdemeanor theft of property or services less than $100 (petty theft) carries imprisonment of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than $500, or both. Offender must return property or pay equivalent amount.
  • Misdemeanor theft of property or services less than $1,000 carries imprisonment of not more than 18 months, a fine of not more than $500, or both. Offender must return property or pay equivalent amount.
  • Felony theft of property or services of at least $1,000 but not more than $10,000 carries imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine or not more than $10,000, or both. Offender must return property or pay equivalent amount.
  • Felony theft of property or services of at least $10,000 but less than $100,000 carries imprisonment of no more than 15 years or a fine of not more than $15,000, or both. Offender must return property or pay equivalent amount.
  • Felony theft of property or services of at least $100,000 or more carries imprisonment of no more than 25 years or a fine not more than $25,000, or both. Offender must return property or pay equivalent amount.

There are several arguments that can be made for a legitimate claim to property, and questions of depreciation and actual valuation can make a big difference in a claim. There are always options when you’re accused of a crime, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony.

When you work with my firm – Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law – you work with me: an experienced Annapolis theft defense attorney. Give me a call at 410.777.8103 or fill out my contact form, so we can get to work on your defense.

When you think you’re in trouble, remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.