Like all crimes in Maine, theft crimes are categorized by class. The value of the stolen item, the intent of the perpetrator, and the method by which the crime was committed are factors which determine the category of a theft crime. The categories range from minor misdemeanor charges to very serious felony charges. In either case, it is necessary to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney to defend against theft charges regardless of their severity.
Grand Larceny Charges in Maine
When the value of the stolen property is $10,000 or higher, or the stolen item is a firearm or explosive device, the perpetrator may face a Class B felony charge. The penalty is up to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $20,000. You cannot afford to take such charges lightly and therefore must enlist the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
In some cases, people may be charged with grand larceny involving property they claim to own or in which they may have an ownership interest. Under these circumstances, it is critical to consult with an attorney before taking steps to retrieve the property. For example, if you loan your car to someone who fails to return it, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer before taking steps to gain possession of your vehicle to avoid having false theft charges filed. Keep in mind, you may face also grand larceny charges if the car is jointly owned and you remove the vehicle without the joint owner’s consent.
Understanding Various Theft Charges
Theft charges can be complicated. For example, someone may face a theft charge because they were caught shoplifting. Issuing a bad check is a form of theft as well, though it is more commonly prosecuted as a larceny charge. The elements of theft are relatively straightforward, the perpetrator acts with an intent to deprive the rightful owner of their property.
The value of the property in question will generally determine whether the crime is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. In Maine, the following penalties apply:
- Class E – if you are found guilty of obtaining property valued at $500 or less you could face a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of six months
- Class D – a person found guilty of stealing property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000 could face fines of up to $2,000 and jail time of up to a year. This is the maximum level of misdemeanor charge that one may face.
- Class C – those who are found guilty of stealing property valued at more than $1,000 and less than $10,000 will be facing up to five years in jail and fines of up to $5,000. Anyone who has two prior theft convictions will also face Class C charges. This is the lowest level of felony charge.
- Class B – when property has a value of more than $10,000 or is a firearm, they are facing felony charges. The resulting jail time could be as long as 10 years and fines may be as high as $20,000.
Facing Maine Robbery Charges
Unlike theft, robbery does not necessarily require that the property be removed from another person’s possession. Under Maine statutes, robbery may be charged if a person merely attempts to steal property from another by threat of bodily injury. Such conduct is a Class B felony which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine. If a weapon is used, the charge is elevated to a Class A crime. Causing bodily harm during a robbery, with or without a weapon also is a Class A crime. As noted above, the maximum penalty for a Class A crime is 30 years imprisonment and up to a $50,000 fine. Robbery charges a very serious and requires the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Defending Theft Charges in Maine
A criminal conviction for theft or theft related crimes is a serious matter with serious consequences. In addition to incarceration and substantial fines, even a misdemeanor charge will be on your record and may effect your ability or suitable housing. to find work. A felony conviction can prevent you from obtaining loans, maintaining professional licenses, or receiving government benefits or contracts and other collateral consequences. Additionally, since Maine does not have a statute that permit expungement of a criminal record, the only alternative is to request a Governor’s pardon which is difficult to obtain.
The Law Office of Richard S. Berne is uniquely qualified to effectively represent defendants against theft and related charges. With more than 40 years of experience, you can rely on us to defend you aggressively. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.