Shoplifting Charges in Maryland

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

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Shoplifting in Maryland 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.

Maryland Shoplifting Laws

Maryland law groups shoplifting under the general category of theft. Maryland Criminal Code § 7-104 criminalizes both the taking of property and the concealing of property in a manner that would deprive the owner of the property's use or value. Shoplifters face jail time and fines which progressively increase with the value of the stolen goods.

In addition to criminal penalties, shoplifters are civilly liable to victimized merchants. Criminal and civil penalties are described below.

Maryland Shoplifting Criminal Penalties 

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Theft of property valued at less than $100

Misdemeanor under §7–104(g)(3)

Jail time up to 90 days; a fine up to $500; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner

Theft of property valued at $100 to $1,000

Misdemeanor under §7–104(g)(2)

Jail time up to 18 months; a fine up to $500; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner

Theft of property valued at $1,000 or less with two or more prior convictions

Misdemeanor under §7–104(g)(4)

Jail time up to five years; a fine up to $5,000;  a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner

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

Felony under §7–104(g)(1)(i)

Jail time up to 10 years; a fine up to $10,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner

Theft of property valued between $10,000 and $100,000

Felony under §7–104(g)(1)(ii)

Jail time up to 15 years; a fine up to $15,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner

Theft of property exceeding $100,000 in value

Felony under §7–104(g)(1)(iii)

Jail time up to 25 years; a fine up to $25,000; a requirement to provide the property or its value to the owner

Civil Penalties

Adult and emancipated minor shoplifters (or the parents or legal guardians of unemancipated minors) are civilly liable to victimized merchants. The merchants can sue for retail value if the merchandise has lost value or is not recovered; certain other actual damages; and a penalty of twice the retail value of the merchandise, with a minimum penalty of $50 and a maximum of $1000.

Probation Before Judgment and Plea Bargaining

Some Maryland counties offer diversion programs, especially to juveniles, and probation before judgment programs, to certain individuals accused of first-time and low-level crimes. As part of these programs, the accused must complete court-mandated requirements, which could include restitution, community service, and a period of probation. Upon successful completion of the program requirements, the criminal charges will be dropped.

A difference between diversion and deferred judgment programs in Maryland is that to participate in a deferred judgment program, the accused must first plead guilty, or no contest, or be found guilty of the crime, which is usually not a requirement for participation in diversion programs.

When diversion and probation before judgment programs are not available, the accused may be able to negotiate a plea arrangement with the prosecutor. Prosecutors have discretion to offer plea deals involving lesser charges or lighter sentencing in exchange for a guilty plea. However, they are under no obligation to offer such options  and may do so only when they believe leniency is appropriate given the circumstances.

Learn more about diversion and pretrial options.

Getting Legal Help

If you have been accused of shoplifting in the state of Maryland, it is highly recommended that you get legal assistance. A qualified criminal lawyer can assist you in exploring your options, such as pursuing diversion programs, raising defenses, or negotiating a plea bargain, in order to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge.

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