Shoplifting offenses often consist of more than just stealing goods. You can also face these charges if you conceal items while in a store or change the price on a tag to pay less than the correct amount. And while it may not seem like a serious crime, the penalties for shoplifting in Fulton County can be significant. They can range from fines to jail time and rise in severity as the value of the items allegedly stolen increases.
When you are facing shoplifting charges, a Fulton County shoplifting lawyer could help you aggressively defend against the charges to minimize the potential consequences. Speaking with a well-versed theft attorney could give you peace of mind at this time.
What Counts as Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is treated differently in every state. In Georgia, it is a more serious crime than most people think and the actions the state considers to be shoplifting are broad. Under the Georgia Code, a person may be shoplifting when they:
- Conceal or take goods from a retail establishment
- Change the price of goods in a retail establishment
- Move merchandise from one container to another in a store
- Switch the price tags on items
- Wrongfully pay less than the stated price
Depending on the value of the goods involved, the offense is considered either a misdemeanor or a felony under the law. If the property is $500 or less in value, the offense is punishable as a misdemeanor. If the value of the items is greater than $500, then the offense is considered a felony.
Penalties in Fulton County
The penalties for shoplifting vary according to several factors. One factor that may have a large impact on the potential consequences is whether the person has any prior offenses on their record. Depending on the number of previous offenses, the penalties can range in severity. However, it is critical for the accused to speak with a Fulton County shoplifting lawyer for any and all accusations of shoplifting.
First and Second Offenses
A first shoplifting offense that is a misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $1,000, up to 12 months in jail, or both. If the offense is considered a felony, the first offense is punishable by imprisonment for one to ten years.
Regardless of whether the first offense was a misdemeanor or a felony, for a second shoplifting offense, the individual may face fines that are not less than $500 in addition to or in lieu of any imprisonment.
How Severe are Penalties for Third and Fourth Degree Shoplifting?
Whether the first two offenses were misdemeanors or felonies, a third offense can result in not less than 30 days imprisonment or the person can be confined in another correctional facility or sentenced to house arrest for 120 days. In addition, they may be required to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment at their own expense.
When a person is facing a fourth or subsequent shoplifting offense, whether the previous offenses were misdemeanors or felonies, they may face felony charges and may face imprisonment for one to ten years.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Shoplifting Attorney
Even a first shoplifting offense can carry heavy penalties and create a criminal record that can follow you throughout your life. Therefore, you should begin planning strategies to fight these charges the moment you are arrested.
Whether you are charged with a first offense or are a repeat offender, with a seasoned Fulton County shoplifting lawyer on your side, you could have the best chance for a positive outcome. Call today to discuss your situation.