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Theft Offenses in Maine

When a person steals someone else's property or intends to steal someone else's property without returning it later, that is the basic definition of theft in Maine. There are different variations of the crime generally known as theft, and all – from a Class E theft crime to a Class B theft crime – can result in serious penalties. The penalties you face are often determined by the type of theft and the value of the property stolen.

If you have been charged with a theft crime in Maine, you require a strong defense. An experienced theft crimes attorney will devise a defense strategy specific to your situation. At the Law Office of William H. Ashe, our legal team will work tirelessly to defend your case. We will address all angles and challenge the State each step of the way, forcing the prosecutor and the jury to uphold the principle that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To learn more about how we defend our clients accused of theft crimes in Maine, contact William H. Ashe today at 207-615-1344. 

What is the definition of theft in Maine?

Maine Revised Statute Title 17-A, §353 explains a person is guilty of the crime if

The person obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of the property.

To prove theft, the prosecutor must prove that you exercised unauthorized control over the thing allegedly stolen. The statute defines "exercises unauthorized control" as an act that 

includes but is not limited to conduct formerly defined or known as common law larceny by trespassory taking, larceny by conversion, larceny by bailee and embezzlement.

Unauthorized control is not the only means theft is committed, but can be committed via deception, extortion, and unauthorized use.

What are the different theft crimes in Maine?

Maine's theft crimes are governed by Maine Revised Statute Title 17-A Chapter 15. Here is a brief overview of these crimes.

Theft by Unauthorized Taking or Transfer

Section 353 defines the unauthorized taking or transfer of someone else's property, also known as larceny. Examples of this type of theft are shoplifting and automobile theft.

Depending on the value of the property, what the stolen property was, and how the property was stolen (e.g., with a dangerous weapon), this offense can be classified as a Class B, C, D, or E crime.

Theft by Deception

Section 354 defines theft by deception, which occurs when a person obtains someone else's property via deception. Deception occurs when a person intentionally

Creates or reinforces an impression that is false and that the person does not believe to be true...

An example of theft by deception is phishing, where a person sends a message via email, text, or phone and gives the impression that it is a legitimate company with the intent to take something from you (e.g., money).

This offense can be classified as a Class B, C, or D crime.

Insurance Deception

Section 354A defines the theft crime known as insurance deception. This crime

occurs when a person intentionally makes a misrepresentation or written false statement that the person does not believe to be true relating to a material fact to any person engaged in the business of insurance concerning any of the following:
A. An application for the issuance or renewal of an insurance policy;
B. The rating of an insurance policy;
C. Payment made in accordance with an insurance policy;
D. A claim for payment or benefit pursuant to an insurance policy; or
E. Premiums paid on an insurance policy.

This offense can be classified as a Class B, C, or D crime. 

Theft by Extortion

Section 355 defines theft by extortion, which occurs when a person threatens to:

A. Cause physical harm in the future to the person threatened or to any other person or to property at any time; or
B. Do any other act that would not in itself substantially benefit the person but that would harm substantially any other person with respect to that person's health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.

This offense is a Class C crime.

Theft of Lost, Mislaid or Mistakenly Delivered Property

Section 356-A defines this crime, which occurs when a 

person obtains or exercises control over the property of another that the person knows to have been lost or mislaid or to have been delivered under a mistake as to the identity of the recipient or as to the nature or amount of the property and, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property at any time subsequent to acquiring it, the person fails to take reasonable measures to return it.

This offense can be a Class B, C, D, or E crime.

Theft of Services

Section 357 defines theft of services, which occurs when a person avoids payment for services owed to a person and avoids payment by deceptive or forceful means.

This offense can be a Class B, C, D, or E crime.

Theft by Misapplication of Property

Section 358 defines theft by misapplication of property, which occurs when a

person obtains property from anyone or personal services from an employee upon agreement, or subject to a known legal obligation, to make a specified payment or other disposition to a 3rd person or to a fund administered by that person, whether from that property or its proceeds or from that person's own property to be reserved in an equivalent or agreed amount, if that person intentionally or recklessly fails to make the required payment or disposition and deals with the property obtained or withheld as that person's own.

This offense can be a Class B, C, D, or E crime.

Receiving Stolen Property

Section 359 defines the offense known as receiving stolen property, which occurs when a

person receives, retains or disposes of the property of another knowing that it has been stolen, or believing that it has probably been stolen, with the intent to deprive the owner of the property.

This offense can be a Class B, C, D, or E crime.

Unauthorized Use of Property

Section 360 explains what unauthorized use of property means, which often refers to a person who knowingly uses someone else's vehicle (e.g., car, plane, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile) or other property (e.g., overdue library books) without authorization. 

This offense can be a Class C or D crime.

What are the consequences of a theft conviction in Maine?

If convicted of a theft crime in Maine, the penalties you can anticipate will be dependent on the classification of the crime. Below is a summary of the classes and the penalties that accompany the class.

  • Class E theft (property valued at $500 or less) results in up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Class D theft (property valued between $500 - $1,000) results in up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Class C theft (property valued between $1,000 - $10,000) results in up to 5 years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
  • Class B theft (property valued over $10,000) results in up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000.

In Maine, the fine could be higher so long as the fine is not greater than twice the value of the stolen property.

Are there defenses to a theft charge in Maine?

In Maine theft crimes, you may have an affirmative defense if you acted in good faith under a claim of right to property or services. Minus a right to property claim, your defense attorney will look at the facts and evidence and build a defense stemming from the latter. For example, you may have been the victim of an unconstitutional search and seizure, and evidence flowing from this violation can result in its exclusion from evidence. 

The key to remember is that you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and William Ashe will use his insight, experience, and resources to uphold this principle.

Contact an Experienced, Smart Theft Defense Attorney in Maine Today

If you have been charged with a theft crime in Maine, contact the Law Offices of William H. Ashe today. He can be reached at 207-615-1344 or by filling out an online form.

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