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Is the Unauthorized Use of Property a Crime?

Many people consider theft to be stealing an item from another person; however, an individual could also be charged with a theft crime if they use the property of another without their consent. Being charged with any type of theft can have severe impact upon a person's freedoms and future, so it is imperative that you retain powerful legal counsel to challenge the allegations if you have been arrested for this crime.

Under Maine's criminal code 17-A §360, the unauthorized use of someone else's property is theft, and a person is guilty if they:

  • Knew they did not have the owner's consent but still took, operated, or exercised control of a vehicle, or if they knew that a vehicle was unlawfully obtained, but still rode in it. (Class D offense)
  • Committed the offense listed above and has a record of 2 or more convictions of specific theft crimes (Class C offense)
  • Had custody of a vehicle with the permission of the owner in agreement to perform a service, such as maintenance, repair, or for a specific use, but then operated the vehicle for their own purposes without the owner's consent in a way that grossly violated the agreement. (Class D)
  • Committed the above offense with 2 or more prior convictions of specific theft crimes (Class C offense)
  • Had custody of property as a rental or lease in agreement with the owner or had custody under a borrower's agreement with a library or museum, and knowingly failed to return the property for a lengthy amount of time that grossly violated the specified return period of the agreement, and against the owner's consent. (Class D offense)
  • Committed the above crime with a criminal record of at least 2 prior convictions of specific theft crimes (Class C offense)

What are the penalties if I am convicted?

Maine prosecutes theft crimes very strictly, and though the state no longer categorizes criminal offenses as misdemeanor or felony, they do charge violations of the law under certain classes. An offense of unauthorized use of property will be charged according to the circumstances of the crime and the offender's criminal record. Most theft crimes of this nature are charged as either Class D or Class C offenses.

Class D: A crime punishable by a fine of as much as $2000 and incarceration of up to 364 days.

Class C: A crime punishable by a fine of as much as $5000 and incarceration of up to 5 years.

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