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 law in which the offense is charged as a misdemeanor, or in more serious cases, a felony.
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. In Georgia, property or goods valued at less than $500 are generally charged as misdemeanors. Alternatively, if the goods in question are valued at a price greater than $500, the prosecution may file felony charges against the accused.
Furthermore, the State of Georgia can prosecute an accused for a felony offense if he/she allegedly stole items from three different stores in the same county, within seven days of each other, if the cumulative value of the goods stolen exceeds $500. Additionally, an accused’s criminal history of past theft 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. However, following a felony theft by shoplifting conviction, a judge could sentence you between 1-10 years in prison. 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 by bringing forth affirmative defenses to such allegations or requesting for a reduction in the penalty of such charges.
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, please call our office today at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.