For some youths, shoplifting from a retail store is considered a rite of passage. In other situations, adults may take items (groceries, etc.) from a store because they do not have money to spend and must provide for their families.
Regardless of your reason for taking something unlawfully, information is your best friend after a shoplifting arrest. The more you know about the specific charges you face, the better you are prepared to avoid the worst outcome.
Not a separate offense
In Maryland, shoplifting is not an individual crime but rather a form of theft, which the state generally treats harshly. Depending on the value of the involved items, you could face a lengthy term behind bars if convicted.
Here is how the state deals with crimes of theft:
- Value of $100 or less: Up to 90 days in jail and fines approaching $500
- Between $100 and $1,000: Up to 18 months in prison and fines approaching $500
- Between $1,000 and $10,000—a felony: Up to ten years in prison and fines approaching $10,000
As you may imagine, the greater the value of the stolen items, the harsher the court will treat your case.
Most shoplifted items never reach these high values. However, if you took something and learned after the fact that it was very valuable, it’s always wisest to get experienced legal guidance as fast as possible. Together, you can build a defense that paints you in the best possible light. And if you are innocent of the charges, legal guidance ensures you have a fair chance to prove your case to the court.