A theft charge in Atlanta can sometimes carry severe penalties. Depending on whether the theft charge is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, an individual could possibly be facing extreme fines and potential incarceration. Additionally, theft in Atlanta can oftentimes bar an individual from getting admitted to a school or finding employment in the future. Due to these consequences, it is crucial to provide a defense that can combat these burdens. Hiring an experienced Atlanta theft attorney, that can help craft a defense to best challenge your charge, is incredibly important. The right attorney can help to lessen the penalties associated with your Atlanta theft charge.
Consequences of a Theft Charge
The value of the items stolen is a major factor in determining the theft penalty in Atlanta. For a misdemeanor theft case, an individual can be sentenced up to anywhere between 0 and 12 months in jail, and face up to a $1,000 fine. Felony theft cases can carry years in prison, depending on the value of the items involved.
Atlanta theft consequences can also result in some sort of jail time depending on the severity of the charge and who the items were stolen from. A theft charge will carry some financial burden because the state requires that the individual stolen from is reimbursed for the value of the items or gets the items back.
A misdemeanor theft charge can cause an individual to be deported if they are on a visa or a work permit. It can also cause an individual to be deported if they are here illegally.
Diversion Programs & Alternative Sentencing
Theft charges, depending on the severity, oftentimes may be able to be resolved by paying back the money owed and a dismissal. Other times, a theft charge may be more detailed, and by doing some type of pretrial intervention or diversion which can lead to a case dismissal. Pretrial diversion programs can include the completion of certain classes, community service, and restitution.
There is also the ability to have a first offender plea, where an individual pleads guilty with the hope that the charges will be removed from their record after successfully completing state requirements. There is also a potential for a guilty plea or plea of nolo contendere where an individual is not admitting the charges but rather, not contesting them.
There is also the remedy provided under the Georgia and U.S. Constitution of a jury trial. Depending on the facts, an individual may try their case before a jury or a judge with hopes of being found not guilty of the charges of theft.
If the prior convictions were for crimes such as a DUI or a drug charge, they are probably not going to have an impact. If a court or a judge were to see the pattern of theft, it is very likely that this person is going to get some jail time in the case. Regardless of the amount, if a person had two prior theft convictions or four prior shoplifting convictions, then the offense is treated as a felony with matching penalties.
For example, if you have had prior shoplifting offenses on a fourth offense shoplifting, regardless of the quantity, it becomes a felony, even though the first shoplifting offense does not incur jail consequences. In cases with a significant theft history, generally the court will only consider jail time penalties in order to guarantee the individual will not be stealing again.
Oftentimes, the alleged victim in the case will be a deciding factor in the penalty. If the alleged victim is pushing for jail time, chances are will receive at least a little bit of jail time for their penalty.
Negotiating for Reduced Penalties
A theft lawyer can contact the opposing party to negotiate a plan or proactively approach the prosecutor to seek a lesser disposition. Typically, if a lawyer contacts the person who has the item stolen, it is not considered an admission. Rather, it is considered part of a plea bargain or negotiation. So it is always better to have a third party intermediary step in.