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Theft / Shoplifting Charges in Maine

Although it is the most common type of theft, Maine does not have a specific “shoplifting” law specifically for stealing something from a store.  Instead the Maine criminal code, section §351 consolidates crimes associated with stealing, including: larceny, larceny by trick, larceny by bailee, embezzlement, false pretenses, extortion, blackmail, shoplifting and receiving stolen property” under the crime of “theft”.


Therefore, Maine shoplifting criminal charges are brought as crimes of “Theft by Unauthorized taking” with the value of the items alleged to have been stolen, or manner in which they were stolen, establishing the class of crime. 

Because shoplifting charges usually fall under the criminal offense called “Theft by Unauthorized Taking” under $500.00, most cases are brought as class E misdemeanor crimes. The Maine law (section §353) lays out the the definition for accusing someone with theft when: The person obtains or exercises unauthorized control over the property of another with intent to deprive the other person of the property.

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When does a shoplifting or theft charge increase in class of crime? 

While most shoplifting charges are usually brought as class E misdemeanor crimes because the value is under $500.00, the charge can be increased in class and severity when the value of the property alleged to have been stolen totals above a certain dollar amount or certain facts are alleged. There are 3 value amounts, and two firearms related circumstances that cause an increase in the class of crime charged:

  • When the value of the property is more than $500 but not more than $1,000, the violation is a Class D (misdemeanor) crime; 

  • When the value of the property is more than $1,000 but not more than $10,000, the violation is a Class C (felony) crime; 

  • When the value of the property is more than $10,000, OR the property stolen is a firearm / explosive device, OR the person is armed with a dangerous weapon at the time of the offense, the violation is a Class B (felony) crime;

  • If the person is alleged to have two prior criminal convictions for requisite theft related offenses, the charge, regardless of the value of the alleged stolen items, can be charged as a class C (felony) crime. 

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How do shoplifting charges usually get brought in Maine?

Typically shoplifting charges occur when a store employee, security guard, or “loss prevention officer” accuses you of taking store items or property without paying for them. This can occur even if you don't make it out of the store with the items. Usually the person accused of stealing is alleged to have walked past the “last points of sale” (or registers) with the property without paying for it. Self checkouts and phone scanning payment errors can lead to theft charges as well. If you are accused of having concealed something with the intention of taking it out of the store without paying, the store security or employees can ask to detain you and request the police to charge you with shoplifting. Usually local law enforcement will be called by the store to “summons” or charge the person with Maine Theft By Unauthorized Taking. The summons will have the criminal court date and location of the courthouse in which you are required to appear in person. In some cases law enforcement will arrest the suspect for the theft and transport them to the police station or jail. 

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Shoplifting considerations: why do people steal? 

Shoplifting charges are a common occurrence in Maine. Surprisingly, a large portion of people charged with shoplifting did not try to steal because of financial hardship or because they were hungry. Shoplifting or minor theft cases are often a result of mental health issues caused by stress, anxiety, or post-trauma, peer pressure, the adrenaline rush and a feeling of control, or other underlying causes. These underlying issues are important to a defense and need to be explained to the district attorney or prosecuting attorney. If you are charged with shoplifting, make sure to talk to your lawyer about these things because they may be helpful in preparing your defense in court. 

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Why you should hire a lawyer if you or your child is charged with theft or shoplifting:

Because shoplifting is a crime in Maine, there is a risk of jail or fines if convicted (explained more below) but there are even more serious consequences that come from petty theft convictions coming up on a criminal record.

Most importantly, a conviction for theft—even a simple shoplifting charge, is viewed as a crime of dishonesty or “moral turpitude” which means the convicted person can be seen as an untrustworthy person simply for having the theft conviction on their criminal record. A conviction for theft can make it extremely difficult for a person to gain or keep good employment. Any employer that asks about criminal conviction on an application, or runs a background check on applicants, will be very worried about hiring an individual that has a crime of dishonestly in their past. Most will view the person as not trustworthy enough to work at their business because their record says they are a thief.


If you work in the medical or financial employment field, health care industry, government agencies, or are seeking higher education, you should definitely talk to a lawyer because theft charges can have serious negative career implications. A $100.00 fine for shoplifting can cost you so much more in the future by preventing you from getting a good job in the career field of your choice. 


What are other punishments for shoplifting theft charges? 

Most theft charges that arise from shoplifting incidents fall into the under $500 value theft category, and are therefore charged as class E misdemeanors in Maine. Class E misdemeanors are the lowest level of criminal charges under Maine law, however, the impact can still be serious. Class E crimes are punishable by:

  • Up to 6 months incarceration and fines of up to $1000.00.

  • 6 months in jail and $1000.00 in fines are the maximum penalties allowed for a class E crime in Maine. In most circumstances folks facing theft crimes that arise from shoplifting should be more worried about the consequences from a criminal record than the potential for jail and high fines. 


If you are charged with having stolen an item, or a combination of items valued at over $500.00 the theft crime you are charged with will likely be classified as a class D misdemeanor. In Maine Class D crimes are punishable by up to 364 days incarceration (jail time) and fines of up to $2000.00.

If you are accused of having stolen an item, or a combination of items valued at over $1000.00 but not more than $10,000, or you have two prior convictions for theft related crimes, that charge will be classified as a class C felony. In Maine Class C crimes are considered felonies and are punishable by up to 5 years incarceration (jail time) and fines up to $5000.00.

Finally, if you are alleged to have stolen a firearm, or committed the theft while in possession of a dangerous weapon, the charge will rise to a class B felony with maximum penalties of up to 10 years of jail time, and a fine of $20,000.

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Final thoughts on Shoplifting charges in Maine and hiring a Maine shoplifting lawyer

There a proven steps people accused of shoplifting can take to help explain or improve the case against them. Whether it be defenses to the allegations and working to prove the charge is a mistake, or knowing what to do prior to court to give you the best chance to avoid a conviction, a Maine shoplifting attorney can help give you the peace of mind you need to turn around a scary situation. Schedule a free consultation with the Law Offices of Cameron T. Ellis today to discuss you or your family member’s Maine shoplifting case. 

Theft/Shoplifting Testimonials 

Theft/Shoplifting client reviews from

Shoplifting Charge Dropped!

Attorney Ellis was very helpful when my son got caught shoplifting in Maine. I was very nervous at first on the pay-up-front for services contract, as I really just found his information on the internet. Attorney Ellis was very professional and responsive to my questions and phone calls and was very helpful in coaching my son through the process to a dismissal. We are very grateful for Attorney Cameron Ellis.

Confidently gets the results you deserve

Cameron is a fantastic attorney. When I contacted him I was scared of what my future might look like with a criminal record. I had lost my job as a result of being charged with shoplifting, and I was looking at possibly being virtually unhirable going forward. When I first contacted Cameron, he calmed my anxiety with his confident demeanor. He convinced me that we would be able to get the charges dismissed, and he was 100% correct. His legal services are absolutely astounding and worth every penny.

Case Dismissed

I hired Mr. Ellis for help with shoplifting charges. He was a great help through the whole process. Mr. Ellis was calm, polite, and straightforward. I followed his advice to take the Shoplifter's Alternative Course and complete a course write-up. I also reached out to some local volunteer organizations on Mr. Ellis' recommendation that I hope to continue conversations with. When I described my circumstances, he was able to concisely frame it in a way that would help me in my case. Aided by Mr. Ellis' wording, I wrote a letter about my situation for the DA's office. Once the DA reviewed my progress, my case was dismissed 24 hours before the depositional conference. Thanks to Mr. Ellis, I never had to spend a day in court.

HIGHLY Recommend

I am forever grateful for Cameron's help with my case. He was very informative and gave me immediate direction on what to do. He really helped ease my mind and worries. I had a lot at stake regarding my career and future but with his help and early intervention, my case didn't even go to court! Best case scenario! I HIGHLY recommend Cameron. He truly cares, is extremely knowledgeable, and knows his job inside and out. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity to have him as my lawyer!

Great work!

Mr. Ellis was a superb lawyer. He was able to give me sound, actionable advice, and clearly communicated with me throughout the entire process. He was able to get my case dismissed outright! I would definitely recommend him to anyone looking for a good, hardworking lawyer who will do everything he can to get you the results you need.

Forever Grateful

I found myself in an unfortunate situation and in need of legal representation. I had a lot at stake, the wrong outcome would have been detrimental to my business. Cameron was very honest, professional and non-judgmental throughout the whole process. Never having to deal with even a traffic violation in the past I was just so overwhelmed and distraught. Cameron clearly outlined what he needed me to do in order to get the best outcome for my case. I was kept updated during the entire process and Cameron returned any messages promptly. In the end, he was able to get my case completely dismissed without even having to go to court. I will be forever grateful and would recommend Cameron without hesitation to anyone finding themselves in need of legal representation or advice.

Great lawyer!

Cameron was great and so personable. He believed in me and helped get my case dismissed!!

Dismissed - No Record

When I called Cameron Ellis I was just shy of hysterical. I have never been in real legal trouble before, and the events leading up to my call had left me traumatized and very afraid. Attorney Ellis immediately had a calming effect upon me. My experience from that moment forward was seamless and easy. We communicated by email and phone, and he took everything in hand, keeping me informed about what was coming and what I should expect. In the end, I didn't even need to to go to court. And he got my case dismissed with nothing showing on my record! He is a consummate professional and did an exemplary job.

Couldn’t ask for more!

Cameron got my whole criminal case dismissed! I’m very happy he was my lawyer. Couldn’t find better legal representation in Southern Maine for sure!

Transparency, safety, and trust

We all know the feeling of calling the lawyer's office to make an appointment and stepping into the office. We are filled with shame and regret. We know we should've done better, but it's time to do something about it and perhaps present the context of what has happened. We aren't thinking clearly. I know I wasn't. I was filled regret and I had no idea how to proceed.

Cameron stood by me, figuratively speaking, to do all the hard work of clear thinking. He made me feel safe while I was figuring out what has happened. He guided through the process of figuring out the context of my situation and how I could present it to the DA and the judge. The longer I worked with him, the more I felt that he's really helping me, rather than simply to build his resume.

If you want someone who you can trust, and someone who wouldn't shame you for what you did, Cameron is the one you should really consider working with.

The Best Professional and Highly Recommend

It was absolutely pleasure working with Cameron Ellis, where scenario was evident through working with him that he is knowledgeable, experienced, keen to point, no assumptions, and respectful; During the process Cameron spent ample of time with me to work through the steps, defense arguments and ensured that I understood what was expected ahead of time. 

Yes, he is the best lawyer! Well, he’s very professional in his field; as well a very punctual and professional lawyer with tons of experience. He is well known and best in my known community. If you decided on hiring Cameron Ellis you won’t regret it. He helped me to close/dismiss on my very complicated case recently. And trust me, without him I wouldn’t have my long waiting dream life in this country.

Mr. Ellis is a true professional

If you find yourself dealing with the court system things can be very intimidating and often it feels as if no one is in your corner. The first time I met with Mr. Ellis it became clear he is the attorney you hope to have on your side. He is professional and fair while maintaining kindness and encouragement. I am very grateful for his level of commitment and will recommend any time given the chance!

Very helpful!

I was charged with a felony and with Attorney Ellis's plan of attack it will all be dismissed. He is always willing to listen and will work with you when you hit any bump in the road. He can be reached in a timely manner and made this whole case 100% less stressful for myself. I would recommend him to anyone that's in need of an attorney!

Thank you

I was recently charged with a crime for the first time in my life. I honestly did not know what to do next. From my first meeting with Cameron Ellis I knew I made the right choice hiring him. We worked together to come up with a plan and he was open and honest with me about next steps. He always responded to my many emails with questions or concerns within 1 day. I was able to get the best possible outcome on my case and I know if it weren't for him that would not have been the result. I will be forever grateful and recommend his services 100%!

Exceptional Representation - Innocence Proven!

The best decision I made was hiring Cameron T. Ellis to represent me. I was being accused of a crime that I did not commit. I was innocent, and Cameron truly believed in me. We agreed the only outcome for the case was a dismissal. Cameron quickly made contact with all parties, communicated extremely timely throughout the whole process with me, and was able to help me at anytime with questions. Cameron is extremely knowledgeable and a wealth of information to stand behind you and guide you through these types of processes to get the best outcome for you. Through tons of hard work, determination, and special meetings with the DA, Cameron was able to convince the DA I was innocent! He did all of this without having a dispositional conference or a trial! I would highly recommend Cameron T. Ellis! Thank you for everything, Cameron!

Thank you!

Thank you for all the time and effort you put into our case. We were worried that our case would not be resolved, but with your help, the results were better than we expected. We are incredibly grateful for your help.

Great Outcome in Shoplifting Case

I found myself dragged into the criminal justice system when I never expected it. I went from a law abiding citizen, to being arrested and fingerprinted. I did some research online and found attorney Cameron Ellis. We met for about an hour at his office, free of charge, and I felt he was the right lawyer for me. I hired him that day. With his help, my charge will be dismissed and I won’t have a criminal record. Cameron helped ease one of the most traumatic experiences of my life, and made the whole situation far less stressful. He was always available to discuss the case, and even set it up so I never had to show my face in criminal court. Because of him, I can let out a sigh of relief. Thank you Cameron!


Cameron got my felony charged dismissed! I highly recommend him!

Cameron Ellis esq.

Attorney Cameron Ellis did a great job and got me through the case with no criminal conviction. He explained things very well and was available by phone at all times. Thank you Mr. Ellis! Excellent job! I would recommend your services in the future.


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Additional Reivews

Attorney Ellis has over 100 reviews on Avvo with a 5 star rating. Use the link below to continue reading how he has helped his clients throughout his career.

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