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Theft Crimes – Shoplifting, Stolen Property, etc.

Maryland has a variety of theft crimes, which share the same penalty structure. The maximum sentence varies with the value of the property involved, but can also depend on the number of prior convictions for theft crimes. The sort of theft crime committed does not change the maximum sentence at all. For example, someone who possesses stolen property worth $7,000 could be charged with a felony and would be subject to the same maximum sentence as the person who stole that property. Also, part of the penalty for all Maryland theft crimes is that either the stolen property, or the value of the property or services must be returned to the rightful owner.

Sometimes the same crime is charged more than one way when the value is uncertain. For example, you may be charged with theft between $100 and $1500, and theft under $100. It can be a way for the police to let the prosecutor decide how much they think the item should be worth. Also, this is sometimes done out of habit because the law used to be written in such a way as to give the prosecutor unfettered discretion to choose between theft under $100 and the next higher offense, theft under $1000, no matter what the value is, but that has not been the law since late 2016. As it stands now, the State has to prove that the amount is over $100 for the higher value theft offense, with any doubt resolved in favor of the defendant.

When the charge is on a value of less than $100, the maximum penalty is 90 days and $500 dollars. When the charge is on a value of between $100 and $1500, the maximum varies depending on the number of prior theft convictions. If you have no prior theft offenses, the maximum penalty is 6 months and $500 dollars. If you have one or more prior convictions, the maximum penalty is 1 year and $500. If you have four or more prior theft convictions, of any value, the maximum penalty is 5 years and $5000. If you are convicted of theft for failure to pay for motor fuel after dispensing it, your license may also be suspended, in addition to the regular theft penalties that may be imposed. Irrespective of which crime the prosecutor chooses to charge, or how many prior theft offenses you may have, if the value of the item involved is less than $1,500, the crime is a misdemeanor.

When the value passes $1500, theft crimes become felonies. Unlike the case below $1500 dollars, there is a minimum value that must be proven for conviction of each crime. The penalties are tiered. Between $1500 and $25,000, you could be sentenced to up to 5 years and fined $10,000. Between $25,000 and $100,000 you could be sentenced to up to 10 years, and fined $15,000. If the amount is $100,000 or more, you could be sentenced to as much as 20 years, and fined $25,000.

If the item stolen is a car or something that was in a car when it was stolen, you may also be charged with rogue and vagabond, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, or motor vehicle theft.

If you are charged with theft, you may also be charged with burglary or robbery, which are serious crimes on their own, often more serious than the underlying theft offense.

Burglary involves breaking and entering, and comes in different degrees relating to intent and the place entered. Breaking and entering someone else’s home with the intent to commit theft is burglary in the first degree, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Robbery is a theft by force or threat of force. Robbery is a felony, and the maximum sentence is 15 years, or 25 years if the robbery involves use of a dangerous weapon.

If you have been charged with a theft or a related crime, you need a lawyer that can vigorously defend you. I have years of experience successfully defending people against these serious charges. Call me at (301) 556‑8709 today so that we can start making your case a success.


When a car is stolen or taken or used without authorization in Maryland, it is often charged as unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a misdemeanor with a minimum sentence of 6 months and $50, and not more than 4 years and $100. The minimum sentence only applies for a conviction, and does not include probation before judgment. Like other theft offenses, part of the penalty is that the property must be returned, or if that is not possible, the owner must be compensated for the value of the . . . .

Robbery in Maryland is the crime of theft by force, violence, or placing in fear of violence. Robbery is much more serious than a plain theft. It is a crime of violence, and has much higher maximum penalties. In order to be guilty of robbery in Maryland, there must be a theft, by force or threat of force. The force involved does not have to be particularly significant, but there does have to be some force. For example, if someone snatches someone's purse, there is usually going to be a tug on their . . . .

In Maryland, the crime of breaking and entering a motor vehicle and/or stealing its contents is referred to, somewhat strangely, as "rogue and vagabond". Being a rogue and vagabond is a misdemeanor in Maryland punishable by up to 3 years imprisonment. There are two ways to be guilty of being a rogue and vagabond. First, you can be guilty if you possess a burglar's tool with the intent to use the tool to break and enter a vehicle. The second is to be in or on a motor vehicle with the intent to steal . . . .