Shoplifting is considered concealing or taking possession of merchandise at a retail store. Although it may not seem like a serious offense, a conviction for shoplifting can carry a number of different penalties and will show up on your criminal record influencing things such as employment and education. Because of the potential consequences, it is important to put forth the strongest defense possible by contacting a Georgia shoplifting lawyer as soon as you are charged. An experienced theft lawyer can prepare you for what to expect in your case, as well as investigate the facts being alleged.
Types of Offenses
There is a variety of situations that could result in a shoplifting charge. Shoplifting actions could include:
- Altering the price tag or otherwise price marking on goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment
- Transferring the goods from one container in a retail store to another
- Interchanging the label or price tags from one item of merchandise with a label for another
- Wrongfully causing the amount that a person pays to be less than the merchant stated price for the item
For example, having the person somehow ring up $50 when the true cost of the items are $100, is going to be considered shoplifting and warrants contact with a shoplifting attorney in Georgia.
If the amount taken is $500 or less, it is considered a misdemeanor offense. If the charge is $500 or more, it is considered a felony offense. For a misdemeanor, the penalties are up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine, and for a felony anywhere from one to 10 years in jail.
There are more consequences for a second time offender versus a first time offender. A fourth offense is going to be a felony. A felony charge is going to be based upon the value of the item or the number of convictions the person has had in the past.
Building a Defense
An experienced shoplifting lawyer in Georgia may be able to build a defense. A lawyer may review videotapes, find out what sort of history the client has, and try to get a deal so that this does not show up on the client’s record. The first steps to building a defense are interviewing the client, negotiating with the prosecutor to try and get the case resolved, and finding some sort of way that keeps this conviction off the person’s record.
There are potential options such as probation or a reduced sentence that may be possible for someone facing shoplifting charges, along with potential dismissal depending on the jurisdiction.
Working with an Attorney
An experienced shoplifting lawyer in Georgia may be able to get the accused individual into a diversion program or get some sort of dismissal, or no jail time. The person on their own would not be able to do these negotiations. At an arraignment, an attorney would appear, represent their client, and try to negotiate a deal with no jail time and keep the charge off the record.