Maine Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

Defining Theft in Maine

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.” (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A, § 353(1)(A).) In addition to this catch-all definition, Maine statutes identify a number of specific theft offenses, including:

  • theft by unauthorized taking or transfer (e.g. automobile theft) ( § 353.)
  • theft by deception ( § 354.)
  • insurance deception ( § 354A.)
  • theft by extortion ( § 355.)
  • theft of lost or mistakenly delivered property ( § 356-A.)
  • theft of services ( § 357.)
  • receiving stolen property ( § 359.)
  • unauthorized use of property ( § 360.)

Classification of Offenses and Punishment of Theft in Maine

Like most states, Maine classifies theft and theft-related offenses according to the dollar value of the property or services involved in the theft, and other facts related to the theft. 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 person may have to pay a higher fine in a theft case, so long as that amount is not greater than two times the amount that the offender gained by committing the crime. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A § 1301-2.)

Class E Theft. The theft of property valued at $500 or less (other than a firearm or explosive) is a Class E crime under Maine law. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A, § 353(1)(A).) This level of theft is commonly known as petty theft. Class E theft carries a sentence of incarceration in a county jail for a period not to exceed six months, plus a fine not to exceed $1,000. ( § 1252(2), 1301-1A.)

Class D Theft. If the value of the stolen property is more than $500, but not more than $1,000, theft is a Class D crime. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A §353(1)(B)(5).) For a Class D Crime, the punishment is incarceration for a period of less than one year in a county jail, plus a fine of not more than $2,000. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A § 1252(2), § 1301-1A.) Incarceration of more than nine months must be served in the Maine Department of Corrections; otherwise, the sentence must be served in a county jail.

Class C Theft. The theft of property valued at more than $1,000, but less than $10,000, is a Class C crime in Maine. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A § 353(1)(B)(4).) A Class C Crime can result in incarceration in the Maine Department of Corrections for a period not to exceed five years, plus a fine of no more than $5,000. ( § 1252(2), § 1301-1A.)

Class B Theft. If the value of the stolen property is more than $10,000, or if the property stolen is a firearm or an explosive device of any value, or if the offender is armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the crime, the theft is a Class B offense under Maine law. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. § 353(1)(B)(1) to (B)(3).) For a Class B Crime, an offender can receive a sentence of incarceration in the Maine Department of Corrections for a period not to exceed ten years, plus a fine not to exceed $20,000. ( § 1252(2), 1301-1A.)

Civil Penalties for Theft in Maine

In addition to the criminal penalties for theft detailed above, a person who commits shoplifting in the state of Maine may be civilly liable to the store owner for the following damages:

  • the retail price of the merchandise (if the item is not returned in sellable condition), and
  • a civil penalty equal to three times the retail price of the merchandise (but not less than $50 or more than $500). (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 14 § 8302.)

Effect of Prior Convictions on Theft Charge

If a person commits what would ordinarily be charged as a Class E theft offense (stealing property valued at $500 or less, for example) but that person has two or more prior convictions for theft-related offenses in Maine or in another jurisdiction, the current offense will be charged as a Class C crime. (Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. tit. 17A § 353(1)(B)(6).)

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