Understanding Georgia's strict shoplifting laws

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There are a number different Theft laws in the State of Georgia.  The most common theft case we see at our firm is Theft by Shoplifting (see the statute below).  These cases typically involve an allegation of theft from a retail merchant and often involve a teenager or college-aged student.

Generally, whether the case will be treated as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the value of the merchandise taken.  If the value of the merchandise is $500.00 or less, the case will be treated as a misdemeanor.  If, however, the value exceeds $500.00, the case will be treated as a felony and the punishment is enhanced.  As with most laws, there are exceptions to these general rules.

Our Marietta, Georgia Shoplifting lawyers know how to evaluate theft cases and many times we are able to achieve an outcome that does not involve a criminal conviction.  A criminal conviction for a theft offense can be devastating when an individual is applying for employment.

Many jurisdictions have “Diversion Programs” that offer those charged with shoplifting or other theft offenses a chance to have their case dismissed if they are eligible and agree to enter and complete all of the requirements of the Diversion Program.  Whether it is trial, plea bargaining or a Diversion Program, the experienced Cobb County lawyers at Gentry, Smith, Dettmering, Morgan, Schnatmeier & Collins, LLP can help you achieve the best outcome in your case.

 

O.C.G.A. §16-8-14. Theft by Shoplifting

(a) A person commits the offense of theft by shoplifting when such person alone or in concert with another person, with the intent of appropriating merchandise to his or her own use without paying for the same or to deprive the owner of possession thereof or of the value thereof, in whole or in part, does any of the following:

(1) Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;

(2) Alters the price tag or other price marking on goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;

(3) Transfers the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment from one container to another;

(4) Interchanges the label or price tag from one item of merchandise with a label or price tag for another item of merchandise; or

(5) Wrongfully causes the amount paid to be less than the merchant’s stated price for the merchandise.

(b)(1) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft is $500.00 or less in value shall be punished as for a misdemeanor; provided, however, that:

(A) Upon conviction of a second offense for shoplifting, where the first offense is either a felony or a misdemeanor, as defined by this Code section, in addition to or in lieu of any imprisonment which might be imposed, the defendant shall be fined not less than $500.00, and the fine shall not be suspended or probated;

(B) Upon conviction of a third offense for shoplifting, where the first two offenses are either felonies or misdemeanors, or a combination of a felony and a misdemeanor, as defined by this Code section, in addition to or in lieu of any fine which might be imposed, the defendant shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 30 days or confinement in a “special alternative incarceration-probation boot camp,” probation detention center, diversion center, or other community correctional facility of the Department of Corrections for a period of 120 days or shall be sentenced to monitored house arrest for a period of 120 days and, in addition to either such types of confinement, may be required to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment to be paid for by the defendant; and such sentence of imprisonment or confinement shall not be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld; and

(C) Upon conviction of a fourth or subsequent offense for shoplifting, where the prior convictions are either felonies or misdemeanors, or any combination of felonies and misdemeanors, as defined by this Code section, the defendant commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years; and the first year of such sentence shall not be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld.

(2) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft exceeds $500.00 in value commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.

(3) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft is taken from three separate stores or retail establishments within one county during a period of seven days or less and when the aggregate value of the property which was the subject of each theft exceeds $500.00 in value, commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.

(4) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft is taken during a period of 180 days and when the aggregate value of the property which was the subject of each theft exceeds $500.00 in value, commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.

(c) In all cases involving theft by shoplifting, the term “value” means the actual retail price of the property at the time and place of the offense. The unaltered price tag or other marking on property, or duly identified photographs thereof, shall be prima-facie evidence of value and ownership of the property.

(d) Subsection (b) of this Code section shall in no way affect the authority of a sentencing judge to provide for a sentence to be served on weekends or during the nonworking hours of the defendant as provided in Code Section 17-10-2 relative to punishment for misdemeanors.

 

Gentry, Smith, Dettmering, Morgan, Schnatmeier & Collins, LLP

278 North Marietta Pkwy NE
Marietta, GA 30060
Phone: (770) 771-5097

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