Maine theft laws cover a broad range of illegal conduct, including theft of property or services, receiving stolen property, and shoplifting. Let's take a closer look at these offenses and their penalties.
Maine criminal statutes define theft as "obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of the property." In other words, theft involves taking something that is not yours. Theft can occur through an unauthorized taking or transfer or by deception. A person can steal tangible or intangible personal property, real estate, utilities (like gas and water), lost or mislaid property, and services. Receiving stolen property is another type of theft.
(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, § 353 (2020).)
Like most states, Maine classifies theft and theft-related offenses according to the dollar value of the property or services involved in the theft. In some instances, the type of property stolen or other facts related to the theft will determine the penalty.
In Maine, class D and E crimes are misdemeanors, while class A, B, and C crimes are felonies. A conviction of theft at any level can result in incarceration, as well as the payment of fines. Although each level of theft carries a specific maximum fine, Maine law also provides that a judge may order the defendant to pay a higher fine in a theft case—up to two times the amount gained from the offense.
The theft of property or services valued at $500 or less (other than a firearm or explosive) is a class E crime. The punishment for a class E crime can include a fine of up to $1,000, imprisonment for up to six months, or both.
Theft is a class D crime if the value of the stolen property or services is more than $500 but less than $1,000. The punishment for a class D crime can include a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment for up to 364 days, or both.
The theft of property or services valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 is a class C crime. The punishment for a class C crime can include a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for up to five years, or both.
If an individual commits a class D or E theft offense (involving less than $1,000) and that person has two or more prior convictions for theft-related offenses in Maine or another jurisdiction, the current theft-related offense can be charged as a class C crime.
Theft is a class B crime if:
The punishment for a class B crime can include a fine of up to $20,000, imprisonment for up ten years, or both.
(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 17-A, §§ 353, 1604, 1704, 1706 (2020).)
Like many states, Maine law carries both criminal and civil penalties for retail theft.
Retail theft (often calling shoplifting) carries the same theft penalties as described above. Additionally, the law provides for enhanced penalties for groups of two or more individuals working together to commit retail theft with the intent to resell or fraudulently return the stolen items. A person involved in organized retail theft can be charged with a class C crime (a felony), regardless of the dollar value of the stolen goods.
In addition to the criminal penalties, a person who commits retail theft in the state of Maine may be civilly liable to the store owner for the following damages:
Any court-ordered restitution that the defendant paid for in the criminal prosecution must be deducted from any judgment the court awards the victim in the civil action.
(Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 14, § 8302; tit. 17-A, §§ 363, 2012 (2020).)
If you've been charged with or arrested for a theft-related crime in Maine, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. Maine does not expunge criminal records and having a theft conviction might affect future employment, housing opportunities, and financial loans. As such, speaking with a knowledgeable theft attorney has the ability to change the outcome of your case.