Shoplifting Charges in Maine

Learn about the laws, penalties and civil consequences of a shoplifting charge in Maine. Find out if you can avoid a conviction and criminal record.

Shoplifting in Maine is a crime with serious penalties, including potential fines and jail time. In addition to facing criminal penalties, shoplifters can be sued by merchants in civil court to recover damages.

Maine Shoplifting Laws

In Maine, shoplifting is categorized as "theft by unauthorized taking or transfer," which occurs when a person obtains or exercises unauthorized control over someone else's property, with the intent to deprive the other person of the property. If a person conceals unpurchased goods, this creates a rebuttable presumption that the person intended to steal the goods.

Merchants in the state of Maine are permitted to detain, in a reasonable manner and amount of time, individuals who they have probable cause to believe are engaged in shoplifting.

Criminal penalties for shoplifting in Maine include possible jail time and fines, while civil penalties allow a merchant to sue an accused shoplifter to recover damages. Criminal and civil penalties are described below.

Maine Shoplifting Criminal Penalties




Theft of goods valued $500 or less

Class E crime

Up to six months of jail; fine not to exceed $1,000

Theft of goods valued between $500 and $1,000

Class D crime

Up to 364 days of jail; fine not to exceed $2,000

Theft of goods valued between $1,000 and $10,000

Class C crime

Up to five years of jail; fine not to exceed $5,000

Theft with two prior related offenses

Class C crime

Up to five years of jail; fine not to exceed $5,000

Theft of goods valued at greater than $10,000, theft of a firearm

Class B crime

Up to 10 years of jail time; fine not to exceed $20,000

Civil Penalties

Shoplifters can be sued by merchants to recover damages equal to the retail price of the merchandise if the merchandise is not returned in sellable condition, as well as a penalty equal to three times the retail value (with a minimum penalty of $50 and a maximum of $500).

Pretrial Diversion Programs and Plea Bargaining

Maine provides for limited jail diversion programs, including programs available for those whose crimes are related to mental illness. When available, diversion allows for an individual to avoid prison time and/or criminal conviction through completion of court requirements such as counseling or restitution. Diversion is not available in all cases.

In certain circumstances, deferred disposition programs may be available to individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes. In Maine, the accused must plead guilty to qualify for deferred disposition, and if the conditions of the program are met, the court may allow the accused to withdraw the guilty plea and will dismiss the criminal charges.

Those who are not eligible for a diversion program may wish to consider exploring plea options. The accused may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, typically receiving lesser charges or lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in Maine, you should strongly consider contacting an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced criminal attorney can help you explore your options such as entering a pretrial diversion program, raising defenses, and plea bargaining to minimize the effects of shoplifting charges.

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