Burglary or Theft | Maine Criminal Law Attorney | Lipman & Katz

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Burglary and Theft

What's the difference between burglary and theft? 

Burglary in progress using crowbar to break lock on entry door.
Burglary is a serious offense; if you've been charged with burglary or theft you should consult an attorney to protect your rights.

According to Maine state law, a person is guilty of burglary if they have entered a “structure,” such as a home, business, camp, or garage, without permission and that they have entered with the intent to commit a crime inside that structure, such as theft. 

Burglary is a serious offense, an offense that can be made more serious if the burglar is armed with a dangerous weapon or if the structure he or she has entered is a home as opposed to a business or detached garage where people do not typically reside. The burglar may be convicted of the burglary itself, as well as the crime that he or she committed or tried to commit inside the structure.  

A person is guilty of theft if they “exercise unauthorized control over the property of another with the intent to deprive the other person of that property,” which essentially means that theft is the act of stealing, or taking something that does not belong to you without permission. 

Theft convictions are cumulative, so it’s important to understand that a conviction of theft can have additional consequences. For example, if a person has two or more prior convictions of theft in their lifetime, any subsequent charge of theft (regardless of how little the stolen item or items may be worth) is a class C offense and could result in five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. 

Theft convictions may also affect one’s ability to seek future employment or to qualify for public housing. If you’ve been charged with burglary or theft, working with an experienced lawyer will help to protect your rights and make sure that you’re aware of all potential consequences. 

The class of a crime is determined by the value of the property said to have been stolen:

  • Class E: property value is $500 or less and punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine
  • Class D: property value is more than $500 but less than $1,000 and punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine
  • Class C: property value is more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 and punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine
  • Class B: property value is more than more than $10,000 and punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine