Shoplifting is only one of a collection of theft crimes in Georgia. However, it is by far the most common. Despite this, many people do not fully understand the definitions of shoplifting and are surprised to find that they have been charged despite never actually taking anything out of a store.
Shoplifting is a serious charge that is treated more severely than any other form of theft. Even lesser versions of this charge can be penalized with jail time.
Cherokee County shoplifting lawyers are here to defend people against these charges and protect their rights in court. If you have been charged with shoplifting, speak to a determined theft attorney that can attempt to build a solid defense for you.What is Shoplifting?
When most people think of shoplifting, they imagine that a person takes an item from a store without paying for it. While this is certainly a valid definition, there are five other definitions that are illegal under Georgia Code 16-8-14. These are:
- Concealing an item with the intent to take it out of the store
- Changing price tags in an attempt to pass an item off as being sold at a lesser price
- Transferring items between containers or shelves
- Altering price tags in an attempt to change prices
- Wrongfully causing an item to be sold for less than the seller’s stated price
All of these categories do not require a person to actually remove merchandise from the store. Instead, they are focused on the person’s intent to deprive the owner of possession. In this way, a person may be charged with shoplifting if they are seen hiding an item under their coat, or moving items around the store’s displays.What are the Potential Punishments?
Georgia Code 16-8-14 describes the potential penalties that will result from a conviction. These penalties scale with both the value of the items and the number of previous convictions. A first conviction, where the value is less than $500, is a misdemeanor. This carries a potential jail term of up to one year. If the value is above $500, the crime is classified as a felony and carries a mandatory minimum of one year in prison with up to ten years as a maximum.Second Conviction
A second conviction is still a misdemeanor but also requires a fine of not less than $500 be issued. All convictions after two, regardless of the value of the items, carry a required jail term of at least 30 days or a special boot-camp program designed to set people on the right path.
Any conviction for shoplifting will remain on a person’s criminal record and may negatively affect a person’s job prospects or housing situations, which is why individuals should get in touch with a Cherokee County shoplifting lawyer that can help.How a Cherokee County Shoplifting Attorney Can Help
People facing shoplifting charges may be scared and confused. They may think that they cannot be charged with a crime if they did not take the item from the store. Georgia’s shoplifting laws are far broader than straight theft and include the concealment or altering of merchandise. In addition to these expansive definitions, Georgia strictly punishes all convicted shoplifters with stiff fines and long jail terms.
Cherokee County shoplifting lawyers can work to defend people accused of all forms of shoplifting. Whether it is a person’s first offense or fifth, a legal advocate can provide a thorough and nuanced defense aimed at protecting a person’s freedom and reputation. Contact an attorney to see how they can help.