Shoplifting in Maine is a serious crime. In Maine, shoplifting is included in the Maine theft statute for “Theft by Unauthorized Taking or Transfer”. The weight of the consequences for a shoplifting conviction is determined in part by the value of the property or item shoplifted. For petty theft, the least serious form of shoplifting, a criminal conviction can result in fines of up to $1000 and up to 6 months of jail time. Depending on the value of the stolen property and circumstance of the theft, the fines and incarceration time can increase.
Let’s take a moment to examine what a person accused of shoplifting in Maine can expect and what they can do to help in their defense.
- Defining Shoplifting in Maine
- Classifications and Penalties for Shoplifting in Maine
- Understanding the no minimum nuance to the criminal law
- How a Shoplifting Defense Lawyer can help
How is Shoplifting in Maine Defined?
Shoplifting in Maine can result in a criminal theft charge. This means you are accused by store security, loss prevention, or employees of taking merchandise without paying for it. If you concealed items with the intention of taking them out of the store without paying, the store security can detain you and request to the police to charge you with shoplifting.
In situations where the value of the property is under $1,000.00, the shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor crime. Sometimes, misdemeanor theft can commonly be referred to as petty theft. In situations where the value of the property stolen is over $1,000.00 then the shoplifting is considered a felony crime, which carries greater fines and higher maximum jail sentences.
Classifications and Penalties for Shoplifting in Maine
Shoplifting in Maine has many types of penalties. The first is criminal penalties which include jail time and fines. The second is civil penalties that provide cause for a retail store to sue the accused shoplifter to recover damages.
In taking a closer look at the criminal classifications and penalties for shoplifting in Maine, you will notice that Maine does not have a specific law which just applies to shoplifting. All theft crimes in Maine are covered under one law. Maine statute 17-A §351 provides the reasoning for this approach.
The details of the Maine Statute for theft by unauthorized taking or transfer are summarized here:
|Theft of goods with a total property value of no more than $500||Class E crime||Six Months of Jail time, and a fine of no more than $1,000|
|Theft of goods with a total property value of between $500 and $1000||Class D crime||One year of Jail time, and a fine of no more than $2,000|
|Theft of goods with a total property value of between $1000 and $10,000||Class C crime||Up to five years of incarceration and a fine of no more than $5,000|
|Theft with two prior theft convictions||Class C crime||Up to five years of incarceration and a fine of no more than $5,000|
|Theft of goods valued at greater than $10,000||Class B Crime||Up to 10 years of jail time, and a fine of $20,000.|
|Theft of a Firearm||Class B Crime||Up to 10 years of jail time, and a fine of $20,000.|
A conviction for shoplifting in Maine can damage a person’s credibility and future options. With the background checks done before hiring for a job, potential employers will be concerned if this individual might be a risk to their business. The same concern is shared by scholarship awarding committees at colleges and universities.
If the stolen merchandise is not returned in sellable condition, Shoplifters can be sued by retailers and merchants to recover damages equal to the retail price of the merchandise. In civil cases such as these the penalty incurred is equal to three times the retail value of the stolen merchandise. The law provides for a minimum penalty of $50 and a maximum penalty of $500.
Why no minimum penalty for the Criminal Law?
You will notice that in the criminal law penalties, there was no minimum penalty provided. So let’s walk through what this means to you when you are accused of shoplifting in Maine.
In a fictional scenario, let’s say your 18-yr old daughter was caught shoplifting a $50 dollar blouse while in college in Maine. If she is convicted, the punishment can be up to 6 months incarceration and $1,000 dollars in fines. However, having a shoplifting defense attorney can help support a much more favorable outcome.
How a shoplifting defense attorney can help?
In my ten years of experience in Maine, I have represented many individuals accused of shoplifting in Maine. There are several strategies we can explore to see which one will work for your defense. Here are some common every day cases. Your case will likely have special circumstances which need to be reviewed with a Maine criminal defense attorney.
1. Evidence is not provided in a timely manner
One of your legal rights, is the right to due process and a speedy trail. If the district attorney’s office does not provide all the evidence they intend to use to prove the charges against you in a timely manner, we can explore asking the courts to mandate the evidence to be provided. If the district attorney’s office fails to comply, we will request a dismissal of the charges.
2. Accord & Satisfaction
Depending on the circumstances of the case, you may be able to enter into an Accord and Satisfaction agreement. Under this arrangement of “Accord and Satisfaction,” the goal is for the shoplifter to make the vendor whole again. In this way, if the shoplifter successfully “pays back” the person or store the shoplifter stole from, then the charges can be dismissed. However, the aggrieved party also has to agree to an Accord and Satisfaction agreement.
3. Negotiate a plea bargain to a downgraded charge
Given the circumstances, it may be advisable to negotiate or downgrade the criminal offence to a lesser charge, maybe even to a non-criminal violation. The ability to negotiate these types of arrangements depends on the court, the judge, the District Attorney, the circumstances of the alleged offense, the amount of the alleged shoplifting offense, and any prior criminal record you may have. We would explore this option together.
4. Take the case to trial
If all else fails, you can always take the case to trial. This must only be done in certain circumstances where viable defenses are present. The risk versus reward must be considered by us together. If we take the case to trial and lose, the judge can sentence you to jail time and fines. However, if we win at trial, the charges are dismissed and you have no record.
When meeting with your Maine defense attorney, keep in mind you are looking for someone who knows your type of case as well as recognize the unique facts that make up your case.
Contact Maine Theft Crimes Attorney Nielsen
If you or someone you care about is being investigated or have been charged with shoplifting in Maine, please contact the experienced Maine Theft crimes attorney, Chris A. Nielsen, today for a free consultation. We will be happy to discuss your case and any potential defense options.