There are many ways to steal which can land you in jail if you’re caught. Some theft crimes involve force. Many involve grabbing cash or property that belongs to another. Some theft crimes are spur of the moment, and others (if movies are to be believed) involve elaborate schemes and multiple parties to complete.
And then there’s the woman who walks into a bank, approaches a teller, asks for a minute to collect her thoughts, writes a note, tears up that note, and then leaves. And when the people at the bank put that note back together, and see it reads “Give me the money,” they call the police, who then attempt to figure out who this woman is.
We’re not saying that all thefts should be designed with Danny Ocean in mind, but this one could have used a little more work.
A primer on theft charges in Maryland
The Maryland state code lists a lot of different theft charges, including but not limited to:
- False pretenses
- Receiving stolen property
Additional theft-related crimes include robbery (which is generally theft by force), writing bad checks, auto-theft, burglary, and identity theft.
The broad definition of theft requires showing that the accused:
- ”Intends to deprive the owner of the property;
- willfully or knowingly uses, conceals, or abandons the property in a manner that deprives the owner of the property; or
- uses, conceals, or abandons the property knowing the use, concealment, or abandonment probably will deprive the owner of the property.”
There are numerous definitions, exceptions, and variations that may qualify as a theft crime but that may also qualify as a defense. For example, “A person may not obtain the services of another that are available only for compensation:
- by deception; or
- with knowledge that the services are provided without the consent of the person providing them.”
Categories of theft crimes
Theft crimes ae classified as misdemeanors or felonies primarily based on the fair market value of the property or services that were stolen. Misdemeanor charges will normally be brought if the fair market value is less than $1,000. Theft of items worth $1,000 can be charged as felonies.
The length of the prison sentences and the amount of the fines depend on the classification (misdemeanor or felony) and the amount. The baselines used in Maryland for felony crimes are generally
- $1,000 (least serious felony)
- $10,000 (serious felony),
- More than $100,000 (definitely a serious felony; you’re looking at up to 25 years in prison and $25,000 in fines)
In most theft cases, anyone convicted of a theft crime will likely be ordered to pay restitution for the value of the stolen items. Theft crimes that involve violence or the use of weapon will be treated very harshly.
Common defenses to theft charges
Which defenses a skilled criminal lawyer uses depends on the fact (how the theft occurred) and the current law. Some common theft defenses include:
- Showing that the value of the property or services is less than charged
- The accused had a good faith claim to the property
- The accused did not knowingly take or control the property
- The government doesn’t have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, we understand that circumstances can get the better of anyone. We understand that there are often valid explanations for what happened. For nearly 20 years, I have been fighting to help defendants get acquittals, fair pleas, and case dismissals. If you or someone you know has been charged with a theft crime, a skilled Annapolis criminal defense lawyer can help you get justice. Call Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law at 410.777.8103, or complete my contact form to make an appointment.
Just remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.