Maine criminal laws define theft as when a person steals property which belongs to another person or intend to take another’s property and not returning it at a later time. Petty (Class E) Theft charges in Maine, also know as larceny or shoplifting, can result in fines of up to $1,000.00 and up to 6 months jail time. Depending on the value of the stolen property and circumstance of the theft, the fines and jail time can increase.
Let’s take a moment to examine what an accused can expect when facing theft charges in Maine, and what a criminal defendant can do to help in their defense.
- Defining Theft in Maine
- Classifications and Sentences for Theft Charges in Maine
- Types of Theft Charges in Maine
- How a Theft Defense Lawyer can help
How are Theft Charges in Maine Defined?
Maine criminal statues define Theft by Unauthorized Taking or Transfer as “obtaining or exercising unauthorized control over the property of another with the intent to deprive the other person of the property.” Simplified, this definition means that theft is the act of stealing someone else’s property or having the intent to take someone else’s property without returning it. There are several different types of theft charges in Maine.
Classes of Theft Charges in Maine
Maine has developed a classification system to appropriately grade and weigh the severity of the theft crime based and the extent of the potential consequences based on the value of the stolen property. A conviction for theft at any classification level can result in jail time and fines, including potential restitution (paying back the person whose property was stolen). Each criminal classification has a specific maximum fine level within the Maine Statutes regarding theft.
- Class E Theft: The Theft of Property is Valued at $500 or less, it is a Class misdemeanor E crime as long as there were no firearms or explosives stolen or used. Class E Theft Charges in Maine can be referred to as petty theft. The sentenced jail time with a conviction for theft can be up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1,000.00.
- Class D Theft: If the Theft of Property is Valued at more than $500 but less than $1000, then the theft is a Class D misdemeanor crime. The potential punishment can be jail time for up to 346 days and a fine of up to $2000.
- Class C Theft: If the value of the stolen property is more than $1000 but less than $10,000, the theft is labeled a Class C crime, which is a felony. If found guilty of class C Theft, the accused can anticipate a sentence of up to 5 years jail time and a maximum fine of $5,000.
- Class B Theft: If the stolen property is valued at more than $10,000 or if the property stolen is a firearm or explosive device, then the theft is classified as a Class B felony. Class B Theft Crimes in Maine are very serious charges. If found guilty, the defendant can anticipate a potential jail sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
One item to keep in mind is that Maine law has a specific provision that the defendant may have to pay a higher fine in a theft case, as long as the fine sentenced is no greater than twice the value of the stolen property.
Types of Theft Charges in Maine
Theft is recognized in many forms, including theft by deception, stealing, shoplifting, insurance deception, extortion, theft by lost or mislaid property, theft of services, as well as receiving stolen property. Depending on the nature of the theft and the value of what is stolen, sentences for theft convictions can vary. All theft charges in Maine can carry the potential for fines and incarceration time. Some are additional theft charges in Maine include:
- Theft by Unauthorized Taking or Transfer – Theft by unauthorized taking or transfer is taking property that belongs to another person without permission or authorization to do so. Theft by unauthorized taking or transfer is a class E misdemeanor. Depending on the value of the property stolen, the same act could range from a class D to a class B felony. Shoplifting is considered to be Theft by Unauthorized Taking or Transfer.
- Robbery – Robbery is often referred to as a “hold up” or a “mugging.” Robbery is inflicting physical harm, or threatening to inflict physical harm, while attempting to commit theft. Robbery is a class B felony. If a weapon is used, such as a firearm, the robbery is a class A felony.
- Forgery – Forgery is the attempt to deceive another person or the government with an altered or false document or instrument or by fraud involving a signature. Depending on the face value of the instrument, such as a contract for sale, forgery can range from a class D misdemeanor to a class B felony.
- Negotiating a Worthless Instrument – Negotiating a worthless instrument is intentionally issuing or negotiating an instrument, such as a check, knowing that the instrument will not be honored. Depending on the face value of the instrument, negotiating a worthless instrument ranges from a class E misdemeanor to a felony.
How can a Maine theft defense attorney help?
When you or someone you know has been accused of theft charges in Maine, your first action should be to contact a Maine theft defense attorney. For over ten years, I have defended individuals accused of theft charges in Maine. After your free initial consultation, we can immediately begin defending your case, reviewing all of the facts and evidence brought against you, and formulating a defense strategy. When you meet with your potential Theft Defense Attorney, here are some questions that you should consider:
- Is the Theft Defense Attorney familiar with defending theft cases similar to yours? 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. Theft charges in Maine are fairly common but can carry serious consequences nevertheless. An experienced Theft Defense Attorney who has defended similar theft charges will know how to approach the matter with the District Attorney and the Court.
- Does the Theft Defense Attorney ask you additional questions about the circumstances in which the property was stolen? Like other kinds of crime, Theft charges are not always as simple as the defendant being videotaped shoplifting from a retail store. For example, a defendant could be asked to move scrap materials off another’s property, but due to miscommunication or confusion, the wrong items might have been scrapped, leading to a theft charge. Sometimes the circumstances of the theft charge can be quite significant.
- Does the Theft Defense Attorney ask you about any past criminal history for theft-related charges, even if the charges occurred when you were a juvenile? If the District Attorney sees that you have a long history of theft charges, then the State might be less willing to negotiate a favorable resolution right away. If your Theft Defense Attorney is aware of this, then the approach with the District Attorney can be done appropriately.
- Does the Theft Defense Attorney take you seriously, even if the value of the property stolen is relatively “cheap”? Regardless if you are charged with a low level misdemeanor or felony theft charge, a conviction would affect you negatively. Depending on your employment situation, a criminal theft charge could trigger a loss of employment or prevent you from landing a new job in which direct exposure to customer funds or financial trustworthiness would be required.
- How will the Theft Defense Attorney approach defending your case? I approach defense to all theft charges aggressively, regardless if it is a simple shoplifting to more complex theft charges, such as theft of state benefits. If the evidence of theft is complex or embedded in piles of financial documents, then one way to test the State’s evidence is to hire a Forensic Accountant to check the State’s math in calculating the amount allegedly “stolen.”
If you feel that the police or loss prevention personnel “caught you red handed” with the property in question, your case is not hopeless, and so you should never be in a rush to plead guilty. Upon review of your case from the Theft Defense Attorney, it is possible that a strong defense can be found.
Our ultimate goal with a theft charge in Maine often is to have the case dismissed or to reach the best possible outcome. As we work with you on your defense, we will carefully investigate all the evidence the District Attorney has against you, from video surveillance footage to eyewitness reports. We will look to assure all pieces of evidence comply with evidentiary rules and that the police investigation did not violate your constitutional rights.
We are also familiar with the Maine court system where your charges are filed. Overall, we will provide you with advice that can offer your case a fighting chance.
Contact Maine Theft Crimes Attorney Nielsen
If you or someone you care about is being investigated or have been accused of theft charges in Maine, please contact the experienced Maine Theft crimes attorney, Chris A. Nielsen, today for a free legal consultation. We will be happy to discuss your case and any potential defense you may have. Your information will be kept confidential.
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