When people think of theft crimes, the most common example they consider is shoplifting. While this is certainly a prominent version, Georgia’s criminal code defines many other types of theft.

The definitions and potential penalties for theft are varied, and skilled Forsyth County theft lawyers work with clients who have been accused of all types. Whether you have been accused of shoplifting for the first time or a more serious theft offense, contact an experienced theft attorney to see how they can help.

Theft Laws in Georgia

The most common version of theft in Georgia is shoplifting. GA Code 16-8-14 provides multiple definitions including:

  • Concealing or taking possession of the goods of any store
  • Altering price tags or price marking of the goods of any store
  • Transferring goods from one container to another
  • Interchanging price tags from one item to another
  • Wrongfully causing the amount paid to be less than the stated price for the merchandise

All of these definitions require that the accused person intended to deprive the owner of the property. Therefore, a prosecutor must demonstrate not only that a person took the item without paying for it, but also that they intended to do so.

Another interesting aspect of shoplifting is that a person need not actually remove an item from the store to be accused. For example, if a person hid a book inside their jacket, the prosecutor may fairly argue that they concealed it within his jacket with the intent to deprive the store of the book. This meets both the first definition of shoplifting as well as the intent requirement.

The punishments for shoplifting increase both with the number of convictions and value of the items taken. For a first conviction when the value is under $500, the crime is treated as a misdemeanor. GA Code 17-10-3 states that misdemeanors can result in up to one year in jail.

If the value is above $500, the crime is treated as a felony with a minimum of one-year incarceration and a maximum of 10 years. Multiple convictions carry heavy fines regardless of the value of items taken, and mandatory minimum sentences apply starting with a third conviction.

Other Forms of Theft

Less common forms of theft under Georgia Law include:

  • Theft by Taking – This is simply taking another’s property with the intent to deprive the owner of its use
  • Theft by Deception – Here a person takes another’s property under false pretenses with intent to deprive the owner of its use. An example can include a car mechanic taking a car in for repairs but not returning it to the owner
  • Theft of Services – This is when a person takes advantage of a service without paying for it. A common example includes sneaking into a movie theater

The penalties for these are found under GA Code 16-8-5 and just like shoplifting, scale up with the value of the item.

Talk to a Forsyth County Theft Attorney

People can often be confused when they are accused of theft. They may argue that they never took the item they were accused of, and Georgia’s shoplifting laws allow prosecutors to argue that you intended to steal the item, even if you never did. Forsyth County theft lawyers work with clients who have been accused of theft-related charges to form a nuanced and multi-layered defense.

Whether your goal is to work out a reasonable plea deal or to fight the charges at trial, skilled attorneys are by your side. Conviction of theft can result in significant jail times and hefty fines; do not take the risk. Contact theft lawyers in Forsyth County today.