Maine Shoplifting Laws
Serving the Regions of Portland, Augusta, Saco, Bangor, and Biddeford
Maine no longer has a specific law that just applies to shoplifting offenses. Instead, all theft crimes are covered under one law. Maine criminal code §351 explains this consolidation:
Conduct denominated theft in this chapter constitutes a single crime embracing the separate crimes such as those heretofore known as larceny, larceny by trick, larceny by bailee, embezzlement, false pretenses, extortion, blackmail, shoplifting and receiving stolen
property. An accusation of theft may be proved by evidence that it was committed in any manner that would be theft under this chapter, notwithstanding the specification of a different manner in the information or indictment, subject only to the power of the court to ensure a fair trial by granting a continuance or other appropriate relief if the conduct of the defense would be prejudiced by lack of fair notice or by surprise. If the evidence is sufficient to permit a finding of guilt of theft in more than one manner, no election among those manners is required.
Charged With Shoplifting in Maine?
One common type of theft charge is shoplifting. If you are accused by store security or employees of taking merchandise without paying for it, you could be charged with shoplifting. Shoplifting is a petty theft crime, in which the offender unlawfully takes the property of a store or other business. In some cases, you can even be charged with shoplifting before you have even left the store. For example, if the store's security alleges that you concealed items and had the intention of taking them out of the store without paying, they can charge you with shoplifting.
A petty theft is typically charged when the property stolen is valued at less than $500 dollars. If the property stolen is worth more than $500 dollars, the offender will likely be charged with grand theft, which carries increased penalties if convicted. Most shoplifting charges are under $500, but in some cases the items may be worth over $500.
Maine Shoplifting Charges
Shoplifting is a very common offense, and most often the alleged offenders are children, teens, and young adults. Sadly, in many cases these crimes are the result of peer pressure, and a good kid ends up in trouble with the law because of a few bad friends. If your child has been arrested for shoplifting, do not hesitate to call our firm. Though often considered to be a minor crime, theft of any nature can have a devastating impact upon a person's freedom and future if the charges are not challenged by an aggressive criminal defense team.
Shoplifting offenses can have serious penalties. Even a minor shoplifting crime can lead to time in jail and fines. In the state of Maine, the severity of a theft crime is determined by the value of items that were taken. Since most shoplifting crimes are under $500, these offenses are usually charged as a Class E crimes. This is the lowest level of criminal charges; however, the impact can still be powerful. Class E crimes are punishable by:
- Up to 6 months incarceration and fines of up to $1000
There are, however, specific instances that would lead a shoplifting offense to receive a more serious classification. There are a number of these circumstances and, though they are not very common, they can lead to as high as Class B felony charges. These factors include:
- If the value of the items taken is worth over $10,000, the charge will result in a Class B felony.
- If the item stolen was a firearm or an explosive device, the crime will be a Class B charge.
- If the offender was armed with a dangerous weapon, the charge will be a Class B felony.
- If the value of the items taken is worth over $1,000 but less than $10,000, the charge will result in a Class C felony.
- If the value of the items taken is worth over $500 but less than $1,000, the charge will result in a Class D felony.
- If the offender has two or more prior convictions for theft or a theft related crime, the crime will be charged as a Class C offense.
Perhaps more damaging than the possible penalties if convicted is the influence a criminal record of a theft offense can have on an individual's reputation. It can be very difficult for a person to gain employment with shoplifting on their record, as potential employers will likely worry whether the individual is trustworthy enough to work at their business. Likewise, conviction of a crime can affect a student's ability to obtain a scholarship for college.
Shoplifting Attorney in Maine
If you or your child is facing charges for shoplifting, a lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to have the consequences lessened or the charges dropped completely, especially if there is no criminal history to speak of. Our criminal defense attorneys have an in-depth knowledge of theft law in Maine and know what defenses work best. Many of our clients say their minds were put at ease once they spoke to our firm, so call us now.