Legal Elements of Theft in Maryland

Theft in Maryland is the taking of any kind of property with the intent to deprive the owner of its use or enjoyment. That can be a bunch of different things; that can be basic shoplifting, that can include embezzlement, that can include robbery, that can include breaking into somebody’s house and taking their stuff. This basically includes any kind of taking where you intend to deprive the owner of the property of its use can be theft and warrant the attention of a theft lawyer in Maryland.

Taking Possession of Another’s Property

Prosecutors have to prove that you took the property, meaning that it was in your possession with the intent to deprive the owner of its use or possession. In some cases, proving that you took possession of the property can be a hotly contested issue. In some instances, if the property is never found, it can be a complex issue to determine whether there is sufficient evidence that the accused took it.

Intent to Permanent Deprive Another of the Property

However, merely taking possession of the property is not enough for a theft case. Prosecutors must also show that the individual took the property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of its use or possession. This means it can’t be that something that was placed into your briefcase without you knowing it before you walked out. There has to be an intent on your part to actually deprive the owner of the use or possession or enjoyment of that property.

In a typical shoplifting case, for example, They have to show that you as an individual took something and then you intended to leave the store without paying, so you were depriving the owner of the property of its enjoyment.

There is an intent element to a theft case, but the intent is the intent to deprive. Put differently, it is the intent to not let the proper owner enjoy the property,

Evidence to Prove Intent in Theft Cases

Well, usually the prosecutor is not going to present a whole lot of direct evidence of intent just because it’s impossible to prove what’s going on in somebody else’s head.

What they’re going to do is they’re going to present circumstantial evidence that would lead the reasonable person to conclude that you intended to deprive the person of that property.

So, in most theft cases, the intent to deprive is going to be something that the defense is going to raise like an affirmative defensive case basically saying there was no intent to deprive here, my client didn’t know that they had the property or something along those lines.

Value of the The Property

The value of the property at issue (i.e., the alleged “stolen” property) is important element in determining the severity of the charges. Generally, theft penalties are determined based on the value of the property stolen. So, there’s a bunch of different categorizations of it going from theft under $100 to theft from $100 to $1,000, theft over $1,000 and then there’s several different tiers of theft over $1,000 for different degrees of felony.

Usually anything under $1,000 is going to be charged as a misdemeanor which has a maximum eighteen months in jail penalty, and anything over $1,000 is going to be charged as a felony theft.