In Georgia, a theft by shoplifting charge can be prosecuted in municipal court, state court, or even superior court. The State of Georgia may allege that the accused violated a city municipal ordinance, a state law in which the offense is charged as a misdemeanor, or in more serious cases, a felony. Here, we will discuss when a shoplifting case lands in the Municipal Court of Dunwoody.
According to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14, theft by shoplifting occurs when a person, working alone or with others, takes merchandise without paying for it and with the intent to either deprive the owner of any part of the value of the item or to appropriate the item for their own use.
When committing the offense of theft by shoplifting, it can occur in many different forms:
- Concealing the goods;
- Altering the price tag;
- Transferring the item from one container to another;
- Switching the price tag from another item to the item in question; or
- Wrongfully causing the price to be less than the original price stated.
Value of Goods/ Property
In determining whether the theft by shoplifting charge will be characterized as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on the value of the stolen goods. If an accused has been alleged to have shoplifted property or goods valued at less than $500, this will be characterized as a misdemeanor offense. However, if the accused has prior shoplifting convictions, it may impact his/her sentencing or punishment.
In misdemeanor theft by shoplifting cases, a conviction may result in no more than a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. As stated above, past criminal history plays a role in penalties following a conviction for theft by shoplifting.
Due to the severity of the punishment, it is vitally important to hire a seasoned criminal defense attorney to defend you against such allegations. An experienced criminal defense attorney can defend these charges by either getting them dismissed, or reduced to another offense, by negotiating with the Dunwoody Municipal prosecutor, or by bringing forth affirmative defenses to such allegations, either during a bench trial in the municipal court, or during a jury trial in Dekalb County State Court.
At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, our lawyers are trained to know all affirmative defenses for the offense of theft by shoplifting, as well as all possible options for an accused dealing with such a serious charge. We are experienced and skilled at defending such allegations and we work tirelessly to advocate for our clients and their constitutional rights. Therefore, if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft by shoplifting in Dunwoody, Georgia, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.