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Newspaper theft – Harmless prank or criminal offense?

On Behalf of | May 3, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Swiping someone’s newspaper from their doorstep may seem like a funny prank that hurts nobody. However, in Maryland, it’s considered a criminal offense. While the act itself may appear innocent enough, the law treats it as a form of theft, carrying potential penalties for those convicted.

State law on newspaper theft

Under Maryland law, it’s illegal to take or obtain any newspaper from the premises of another or from an area adjacent to those premises with the intent to deprive the owner of the newspaper. This statute applies regardless of whether the newspaper is paid for or provided free of charge.

Specifically, the law prohibits anyone from knowingly exerting control over the newspapers of another with the intent to prevent the other person from reading.

The penalties for newspaper theft

Stealing newspapers is indeed a crime under state law. Those charged with the offense may face real criminal penalties.

Newspaper theft is a misdemeanor criminal offense. On conviction, a person potentially faces up to 60 days of imprisonment and fines of up to $500.

Because stealing newspapers is a misdemeanor, the offense will also appear on the person’s criminal record. This can impact the person’s future education, employment and housing opportunities. A criminal record can also restrict a person’s ability to own firearms and lead to loan application denials.

So, yes newspaper theft is a criminal offense – with surprisingly severe penalties. A conviction not only leads to potential imprisonment and fines but can also negatively impact a person’s life post-sentence. If you’re facing charges, don’t underestimate what a conviction would lead to. A legal professional may be able to minimize the consequences you face and protect your rights in court.