When people think about theft crimes in Georgia, they usually think of shoplifting. While this is certainly a common kind of theft, in reality, the Georgia theft laws are far more numerous and nuanced. A Cherokee County theft lawyer can work with people who have been accused of all types of theft crimes in Georgia.
Whether a person has been accused of shoplifting an item worth five dollars from a convenience store, or any of the more serious theft-related offenses, a skilled criminal defense attorney is here to help. They can listen to your side of the story and examine all of the evidence to create a detailed defense for you.
Georgia Theft Laws
Perhaps the most common version of a theft charge in Georgia is theft by shoplifting. Under GA Code 16-8-14, there are five ways that a person can commit this crime. They must intentionally:
- Conceal or taking possession of goods in a store,
- Alter price tags,
- Transfer goods from one container to another,
- Interchange price tags from one item to another, or
- Wrongfully cause the amount to be paid to be less than the store’s stated price.
An interesting aspect of these definitions is that they do not require that a person actually take an item from the store. Under the first example, simply hiding an item under one’s coat is enough for a charge to be filed.
As Georgia’s statute makes clear, simply taking an action that displays the intent to take the item is sufficient.
Theft by Deception
A second example of theft in Georgia is theft by deception under GA Code 16-8-3. This involves obtaining property by any deceitful means with the creation of a false idea in the property owner’s mind.
Consider the example of a broken computer. An individual sees an ad online for a person offering computer repair. They visit this person and leave their computer with them for the advertised services. Weeks later, they lose all contact with the person and never get their computer back.
The person who left with the computer may be charged with theft by deception since they obtained the property by deceitful means, and with the intent to deprive the owner of the property.
Penalties for Theft Offenses
The penalties for non-shoplifting theft are defined in GA Code 16-8-12. Generally speaking, the penalties become more severe as the value in goods taken increases.
- If the value exceeds $24,999.99, imprisonment for not less than two years but not more than 20 years.
- If the value is between $5,000 and $24,999.99, imprisonment for not less than one year but not more than 10 years.
- For values between $1,500 and $4,999.99, imprisonment for between one and five years.
- For all values less than $1,500, the crime is charged as a general misdemeanor. GA Code 17-10-3, states that misdemeanors can result in up to one year in jail.
The penalties become stricter for shoplifting cases. Once again, the value of the item determines how harsh the potential penalty may be. If the item is valued at less than $500.00, a misdemeanor will apply for a first offense.
However, subsequent offenses impose mandatory fines and required jail times, even if the value of the items stolen is less than $500.
If the value of the item taken is more than $500, the crime becomes a felony with a mandatory sentence of one year in jail. An individual can contact a Cherokee County theft lawyer to learn more about the sentences for shoplifting violations.
How a Georgia Theft Attorney Can Help
When people are accused of theft in Georgia, they can be confused and scared. With the strict penalties that are possible upon conviction, including stiff fines and jail time, the consequences could be severe.
Even if a person never actually removes merchandise from a store, the Georgia shoplifting statute may still apply to them. Regardless of the allegations that a person is facing related to theft, a Cherokee County theft lawyer is here to help.
They will understand the nature of the theft laws in Georgia and how to defend people who have been accused of breaking them. They will listen to your needs and concerns to formulate an effective defense.
Whether your goal is to come to a fair plea deal or to fight the charges at trial, they will be by your side. Contact an attorney to take the first step towards protecting your future.