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Maryland Theft Laws

The crime of theft, also called "larceny" in many states, is one of the oldest laws throughout civil society. It is typically defined as an act of depriving another person of his or her property without their consent. While theft can be something as simple as shoplifing from your favorite bookstore, certain crimes involving fraud or deception also fall under this broad category. State laws generally classify theft charges by the value of the property taken, the smallest thefts (typically under $100) are referred to as "petty" thefts.

In addition to criminal provisions for theft, Maryland also holds those convicted of shoplifting liable to the merchant for twice the value of the property taken.

Maryland Theft Laws: An Overview

For more information on theft laws in Maryland, consult the chart below.

Types of Theft, as Defined by Statute
  • Larceny
  • Larceny by trick
  • Larceny after trust
  • Embezzlement
  • False pretenses
  • Shoplifting
  • Receiving stolen property
What it Means to Act "Knowingly"

A person acts "knowingly" in the following scenarios:

  1. With respect to conduct or a circumstance described as theft, when the person is aware of the conduct or that the circumstance exists;
  2. With respect to the result of conduct described as theft, when the person is practically certain that the result will be caused by the person's conduct; and
  3. With respect to a person's knowledge of the existence of a particular fact, if that knowledge is an element of a crime, when the person is practically certain of the existence of that fact.
Crime Classifications, Penalties, and Sentences

Classification of a theft charge is based on the value of the property allegedly stolen:

  • Petty Theft ($100 or less): Misdemeanor, up to 90 days jail and/or up to a $500 fine
  • Misdemeanor Theft (between $100 and $1,000): Up to 18 months in jail and/or up to a $500 fine
  • Felony Theft (between $1,000 and $10,000): Up to 10 yrs. in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine
  • Felony Theft (between $10,000 and $100,000): Up to 15 yrs. in prison and/or up to a $15,000 fine
  • Felony Theft (more than $100,000): Up to 25 yrs. in prison and/or up to a $25,000 fine
Civil Liability for Theft

A responsible person is civilly liable to the merchant:

  1. To restore merchandise to the merchant or, if it's not recoverable, has been damaged, or otherwise has lost all or part of its value, to pay the merchant an amount equal to the merchant's stated sales price for the merchandise;
  2. To pay the merchant for any other actual damages sustained, not including the loss of time or wages incurred in connection with the apprehension or prosecution of the shoplifter or employee; and
  3. To pay the merchant a civil penalty equal to twice the merchant's stated sales price for the merchandise, but not less than $50 nor more than $1,000.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Maryland Theft Laws: Related Resources

Charged with Theft in Maryland? Get Legal Help

Depending on the severity of the charges and your own criminal history, conviction on theft charges could land you in prison. If you've been charged under Maryland theft laws, it's best to consult with a local criminal defense lawyer who can help you better understand the charges and possible penalties you're facing, and defend you in court, if necessary.

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