Theft is a crime that involves stealing something of value from another, and if a person is caught stealing by law enforcement, there are serious legal repercussions. Theft crimes may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony and sentencing will inevitably include fines, reparations, possible incarceration, and a criminal record that stays for life.
A sound legal defense, however, can reduce or even expunge certain charges, depending on the situation and on the experience of the lawyer. A DeKalb County theft lawyer can offer the expertise and knowledge that the defendant of a theft case will need in order to negotiate the charges and sentencing in the defendant’s favor.
Common Theft Crimes in Georgia
Theft crimes in Georgia are detailed in O.C.G.A. Title 16 Chapter 8 along with penalties for misdemeanor and felony charges. Theft comes in many forms, from shoplifting at a clothing store to purposefully not paying for a hotel room. There is a range of crimes that are considered theft, and each detail about the offense, such as the amount stolen and the means by which it is stolen, will affect the charges as well.
Some of the more common theft crimes in Georgia may include:
- Shoplifting defined in O.C.G.A. 16-8-14
- Refund fraud when a person commits fraud in order to receive a refund as articulated in O.C.G.A. 16-8-14.1
- Theft by taking another’s property or having another’s property without their consent explained fully in O.C.G.A. 16-8-2
- Theft by deception such as stealing via identity theft or forging a check O.C.G.A. 16-8-3
- Theft of services, which may mean refusing to pay for a service, goods, accommodations, or the use of a property, defined in O.C.G.A. 16-8-5
- Theft of trade secrets as related to the theft of intellectual property that is taken illicitly for personal profit as explained in O.C.G.A.16-8-13
- Robbery or armed robbery defined in O.C.G.A. 16-8-40-41
- Auto theft or running a chop shop is the theft of a vehicle or stolen auto parts defined in O.C.G.A. 16-8-80
Having a theft attorney in Dekalb County who is knowledgeable about theft crimes and has experience with the range possible cases that may present themselves will be an asset to an individual accused of theft.
Theft charges and sentencing depend a great deal on the circumstances in which the theft occurred and the amount stolen. While petty theft of items with a value that is $500 or less are typically charged as misdemeanors, the situation could elevate the charges and sentences from the standard year in prison, $1,000 fine plus reparations, and a probation or diversion program.
For example, in a shoplifting or refund fraud case if the amount stolen exceeds $500, it will be charged as a felony and the defendant could face up to one to 10 years in jail, and this may also be the case for any repeat offender such as a person who has been caught shoplifting at least four times.
With such wide variation in the type of theft, the charges, and the sentencing, a Dekalb County theft lawyer must be well versed and highly experienced in the myriad possible cases of theft they may have to defend for any given case.
Protecting Your Rights
A theft charge and conviction may mean lasting consequences like fines, restitution, jail time, and a criminal record that is permanently damaging to employment and housing opportunities. In addition to these punishments, social repercussions like relationship problems and reputation damage will make a criminal conviction even more harrowing.
A legal defense will be vital, and it is in the best interest of any individual arrested for a theft crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, to know exactly what steps to take in order to minimize the effects of a criminal charge.
Contact our firm today to get a top DeKalb County theft lawyer to take a look at your case and guide you through the process in order to protect your rights and work to achieve the best outcome possible in your case.