Many different actions can lead to someone being charged with the crime of theft in Georgia. This criminal charge can arise in situations from pick-pocketing or shoplifting to less obvious ones, such as buying a car (if someone bought a car that they knew or should have known was stolen.)
When someone is charged with the crime of theft, they can be charged with a misdemeanor or a more serious felony. It is important to understand the type of charges, the possible consequences, and options for fighting the charges.
If you or a loved one are facing any type of theft charge, it is imperative that you contact a Johns Creek theft lawyer as quickly as possible. A qualified criminal defense attorney can attempt to ensure that your rights are protected.
Theft Law in Georgia
The value of property taken typically determines whether theft will be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Theft of property valued at $500 or less is a misdemeanor, which can lead to a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a fine. Theft of property greater than $500 is a felony, which can result in one to ten years in prison, and a fine.
The broadest category of theft covered under Georgia Criminal Code 16-8-1 et seq. is theft by taking. This occurs when someone unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which the property is taken or appropriated.
Under this definition, even if a person is holding property for a valid reason, such as a bellhop transferring luggage at a hotel, if their intent is to take the property, they can be found guilty of theft. A Johns Creek theft lawyer can try to disprove intent on behalf of the defendant.
Different Kinds of Theft
The criminal code further breaks down different kinds of theft. These categories include:
- Theft by deception: This covers obtaining property (including money) by promising to provide services, when a person does not intend to perform those services, or providing (or failing to correct) false information, for example giving a customer false information about the condition of a good sold
- Theft by shoplifting: This is not limited to just carrying goods out of a store. Moving goods from one container to another, altering a price tag, or concealing items can result in a shoplifting charge.
- Theft by conversion: This is defined as taking someone’s property for them (such as taking money to deposit into the bank account of an employer) and instead converting, or keeping the property
- Theft by receiving stolen property: If someone receives property that they know or should know was stolen (for example, buying electronics for a very low price under suspicious circumstances), they may be charged or convicted of theft by receiving stolen property
- Theft of lost or mislaid property: Finders keepers may apply to childhood games but it is not the law in Georgia. Theft can occur when someone finds property they know has been lost and keeps it for themselves without taking reasonable measures to return the property to the owner
Possible Defenses Against Theft Charges
The intent is an important element of whether or not someone has committed theft. Intent can be shown through actions but is ultimately about what is in someone’s mind – whether they intend to keep property that is not their own. Lack of intent might be a defense to theft charges.
Other defenses can include whether a person thought property was their own, whether there is sufficient evidence, and whether any evidence was obtained lawfully by the police (such as whether entrapment occurred).
If a person has been charged with theft, a theft attorney can review their case for possible defenses and can also advise the accused about options for pleas and whether there are means to reduce the harshness of the consequences.
Working With a Johns Creek Theft Attorney
A seasoned Johns Creek theft attorney can help you navigate the stress of your criminal charge from start to finish, from finding cracks in the case the prosecutor can make to understanding the risks of taking a plea versus trial.