As a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, the most common theft-related charge I see is Theft by Shoplifting.
According to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14, a person commits the offense of shoplifting when he or she, whether alone or acting in conjunction with other people and with the intent of appropriating merchandise for his or her own use without paying for it:
- Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
- Alters the price tag or other price marking on goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
- Transfers the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment from one container to another;
- Interchanges the label or price tag from one item of merchandise with a label or price tag for another item of merchandise; or
- Wrongfully causes the amount paid to be less than the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise.
In my practice as a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney, I have found that many people, defendants and attorneys alike, do not think of shoplifting as a serious charge. This is a mistake, as shoplifting carries the potential for serious penalties, especially for individuals who have prior shoplifting convictions.
|Offense||Misdemeanor / Felony||Minimums|
|Shoplifting $500 or Less – 1st Offense||Misdemeanor||· None|
|Shoplifting $500 or Less – 2nd Offense||Misdemeanor||· Fine of at least $500, which may not be suspended or probated.|
|Shoplifting $500 or Less – 3rd Offense||Misdemeanor||· No less than 30 days in jail, or
· 120 days alterative detention center; or
· 120 days house arrest, and
· May be required to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment; and
· Sentence may not be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld.
|Shoplifting $500 or Less – 4th Offense||Felony||· At least 1 year but not more than 10 years.
· The first year may not be suspended, probated, deferred or withheld.
|Shoplifting $500 or More||Felony||· At least 1 year but not more than 10 years.|
|Shoplifting where property taken from three separate stores within one county during a 7 day period, and where the total value is $500 or more.||Felony||· At least 1 year but not more than 10 years.|
|Shoplifting where property is taken during a 180 day period and where the total value is $500 or more.||Felony||· At least 1 year but not more than 10 years.|
It is important to note that, contrary to what many people believe, a person need not exit the store with stolen property in order to commit the offense of shoplifting. Concealing it, or even partially committing one of the acts above, may be sufficient to support a shoplifting charge.
Although it might be tempting to try to handle a shoplifting charge without a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney with experience handling shoplifting cases, that is a mistake. Even a first misdemeanor shoplifting conviction can have a devastating effect on a person’s ability to get a job, especially in certain fields, such as retail or banking. Don’t let a shoplifting charge derail your life. Call me today.