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Shoplifting can lead to misdemeanor or felony charges

It may not seem like something serious, but taking anything from a store, even something as minor as a cup of coffee from a café or a t-shirt off a rack, can lead to shoplifting charges. Many store owners are strict on their shoplifting policies, so much so that even minor offenses that could be easily paid for will be prosecuted instead.

There is such a thing as accidentally shoplifting. For example, you might start carrying around a few pieces of clothing with you, put several back and forget to hang back up a bag you had placed on your shoulder. You might grab a drink and sandwich from a store and forget to cover the cost of the drink when you’re at the register. These accidents shouldn’t result in charges, but in some cases, the store owner may accuse you and attempt to have you arrested.

Shoplifting defined

In Maryland, shoplifting is a crime that requires that the accused shoplifter willfully stole an item to deprive the owner of property or payment for the property. They must also attempt to abandon, conceal or use the property in such a way that the owner of that property would be deprived. As an example, if you pick up something you want from the store, walk out, put it down outside the store and are stopped, you could still be charged for shoplifting the abandoned item.

Concealing an item in store could be shoplifting as well. For instance, placing a drink into your purse to carry it while you shop for other items could result in accusations of shoplifting.

What are Maryland’s shoplifting penalties?

Shoplifting items worth under $100 could lead to misdemeanor charges, up to $500 in penalties and 90 days in prison. For under $1,000 but over $100, you can face up to 18 months in prison and $500 in fines. For shoplifting over $1,000, the crime becomes a felony.

It’s vital to protect yourself if you’re accused of shoplifting. Accidents happen and mistakes are made. It is essential that you take the accusations seriously and fight back to protect your rights.