In Maryland, theft charges can be anything from a minor shoplifting offense to a serious felony theft charge.
The seriousness of theft charges depends on the value of what was taken. The sentencing guidelines get higher as the value of the stolen items rises.
Theft charges can have an enormous and long-lasting impact on a person’s life. In addition to potential incarceration, theft charges can also make it extremely difficult to obtain employment or pass a background investigation. That can stay true even years in the future, when a theft charge is long behind you.
For that reason it is vital that you get an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you if you have been charged with the crime of theft in Maryland.
Theft cases come in many different shapes and sizes, but here is some basic information that is true for all of them:
SHOPLIFTING & THE LOSS PREVENTION OFFICER
Shoplifting is probably the most common type of theft charge you can get in Maryland. There are some unique and important things to know about shoplifting cases.
Most stores these days not only install security cameras, but will also have a professional loss prevention officer (LPO) on staff to oversee their security. This can result in two sources of evidence used by the state in your case – the LPO and the video.
Many shoplifting theft cases begin with the LPO observing a theft (in person or on camera) and stopping the suspect as they exit the store.
Consider this insider tip – most people don’t know that when LPO’s question you, they are not bound by the same constitutional standards as regular police officers. They don’t have to give you miranda warnings, advise you of your rights, or abide by other constitutional standards usually applied to the police in the questioning of suspects. This is because most courts do not consider them to be “state actors.”
In other words – even if the LPO does something the police would not have been permitted to do, your statement can still be used against you!
What should you do about this? You guessed it. Remain silent! You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by speaking with a LPO.
Another common type of theft case involves the sale of stolen goods at pawn shops.
All sales at pawn shops are recorded, generally with the driver’s license of the person making the sale. That way police are able to search a database for stolen property and identify who sold that property – and charge that person with theft!
Always be wary of selling items at pawn shops. Even if you did not steal the item, make sure you know where that item came from.
Many cases involve a person pawning an item for a “friend”, only to be charged later with a theft they had no part in. Always be careful in these situations.
Theft convictions can make it incredibly difficult to find a job. In our society, most people will forgive a youthful drug charge, or even a past assault charge, but people do not feel the same way about prior theft charges. Employers in particular are extremely reluctant to hire anyone who has been convicted of theft, even if the crime was a long time ago.
Maryland has recently passed new legislation expanding expungement rights.This law gives prior criminal defendants a chance to clean up their records. Read more about it here, where we explain the new law and what you need to do to take advantage of it.
This is an enormous opportunity that you should not let pass you by. Talk to an attorney to find out if these new laws can help you.
CONCLUSION & NEXT STEPS
None of this is easy. There are general rules, exceptions to the general rules, loopholes to those exceptions, etc., etc.
If you have been charged with theft, it is vital to discuss your case thoroughly with an experienced criminal defense attorney.You must explore all your options including any defenses available to you.
Want to know more? Discover what you need to know about Maryland criminal defense cases. Click here to see our Free Legal Consumer Guide to Criminal Law in Maryland and get answers to your questions today. Know your options. Be informed. Protect yourself.
Need a criminal defense attorney? Please contact us for a consultation today if you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Waldorf and Lexington Park for your criminal charge.
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