Summary: What to do when you are charged with shoplifting in Maryland
"A Seasoned Lawyers view"
JAMES E CRAWFORD JR. & ASSOCIATES, LLC
take a deep breath! Your life is not over as you know it but you must
be extremely diligent hence forth and address this issue ASAP.
Contact a seasoned lawyer so he/she can sit down with you and discuss your options. Your lawyer should know exactly how to handle this and give you some serious insight.
Most of the time jail is not on the table (although many factors go into this equation such as amount of the stolen goods and the county where the crime occurred)
The problem is, that having a "theft" conviction on your record will destroy your future. An employer will unlikely be willing to take a chance on someone who has been labeled a "thief". Not only because they may be afraid of what you will do to the company but also because of civil liability issues.
Bottom line is that there are several diversion and pre-trial moves you can make to fix this.
Once you are charged it is imperative that you find a way to keep it off your record. There are several ways to do that. Expungement is the goal!
Unfortunately there are lot of variables, such as the prosecutor and Judge involved that will effect the outcome of the case. The court will also play a part as to the "attitude" of the prosecution.
There are things you can do to keep this off your record. One of the things I have done is create a "shoplifting class" for people who find themselves in this situation. I use the class as a way to convince the Judge and States Attorney that you have paid your "penance" so to speak and the issue is fixed.
I see many good people who get themselves in this situation for many reasons. Most of them are silly and spur of the moment decisions. Some are professionals individuals such as doctors, professional athletes, etc., who may be crying out for help. They may be overwhelmed with an issue in their life. I use this as a means to convince the Judge to make go away.
The bottom line is that it is a situation that can be corrected. Make sure your lawyer is on top of the issue and has a game plan!
One final note. Under Maryland law the store that the merchandise was taken from is allowed to penalize you by asking for "triple" damages as to the cost of the goods. This is true even if the merchandise was not actually taken from the store. Do not pay those monies until you have spoken to your lawyer.
Good luck. Be aggressive!
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