Being accused of theft in Georgia can be a confusing time. When many people think of theft, they think that a person needs to actually steal an item.
While this is true, the shoplifting laws in Georgia make it a crime to simply take an action that may reasonably lead to theft. On top of that, the penalties for shoplifting are enhanced over other forms of theft.
Roswell theft lawyers represent clients who have been accused of all forms of theft to argue their cases in court and to work towards a positive outcome. Contact an experienced lawyer today to get a start on your case.
Theft Laws in Georgia
The most common form of theft in Georgia is shoplifting. While it is commonly known that taking an item from a store without paying for it counts as shoplifting, the Georgia law on the subject carries alternative definitions. Shoplifting includes when a person:
- conceals or takes possession of goods in a store
- alters price tags
- transfers goods from one container to another
- interchanges price tags from one item to another
- wrongfully causes the amount to be paid to be less than the store’s stated price
None of these examples involves removing merchandise from a store. Rather, it is undertaking an act with the intent to deprive the store of ownership that defines shoplifting. Merely placing the item in a hidden location, such as inside a coat or under a blanket in a cart is sufficient for a shoplifting accusation.
Another form of theft in Georgia is theft by deception. This is defined in GA Code 16-8-3 as when a person deprives an owner of the use of an item through misdirection. An example may be if a person advertises bicycle repairs, takes the bike in for repairs as advertised, but never returns it to the owner. This would be theft by deception since the defendant took the item under seemingly legitimate pretenses and therefore deceived the owner out of the property. A Roswell theft lawyer is well-adept on the theft laws in Georgia.
Potential Penalties for Theft
Penalties for theft can be separated into shoplifting penalties and penalties for all other theft. For general theft, the penalties can scale upwards in relation to the value of the goods stolen. GA Code 16-8-12 describes these as:
- If the value exceeds $24,999.99, imprisonment for not less than two years but not more than 20 years
- If the value is between $5,000 and $24,999.99, imprisonment for not less than one year but not more than 10 years
- For values between $1,500 and $4,999.99, imprisonment for between one and five years
- For all values less than $1,500, the crime is charged as a general misdemeanor. GA Code 17-10-3 states that misdemeanors can result in up to one year in jail
If a person is found guilty of shoplifting, the penalties once again scale up with the value of the items taken, but the penalties are much harsher. For a misdemeanor to apply, the item cannot be valued at more than $500, as opposed to $1,500 for all other forms of theft.
However, if a person is convicted of four shoplifting offenses, regardless of the value of the stolen item, the law prescribes mandatory fines and required jail times. The exact penalties as they apply to specific situations are found in GA Code 16-8-14.
Contact a Roswell Theft Lawyer Today
If a person is charged with theft, they can be confused and scared. For many people, this is their first exposure to the criminal justice system.
Roswell theft lawyers are available to help. They are at your side every step of the way from arraignment and bail hearings, through evidentiary motions, all the way to a potential trial.
Whether your goal is to come to a fair plea deal, or to fight the charges to the end, compassionate and dedicated attorneys will listen to your concerns and needs. Do not take any unnecessary chances with charges that could result in stiff fines or even jail. Contact a Roswell theft attorney today.