I was charged with misdemeanor shoplifting; my girlfriend was charged with felony shoplifting

Question: Since I got arrested for shoplifting I’ve been thinking about my charges a lot. I’m very happy that I was charged with a misdemeanor but my girlfriend was charged with felony shoplifting about two weeks later. I know you probably think we’re idiots, but we’ve just had some really bad luck and we’ve handled it badly.

To make a long story short, we both lost our jobs within a week of each other. I was a server making good money at a restaurant at Avalon in Alpharetta, and she was making really good cash giving massages at a place in Buckhead. She has great hands and loves giving massages so she had a lot of customers who tipped well who thought she was great.

But we basically partied too much and we were drinking a lot and smoking pot and we started to get into cocaine. That was all a mistake and we lost our jobs. So we were living off money I borrowed from my mom and she was using her credit cards. We weren’t stealing or anything. But after a little we just figured that we could take little things and stores wouldn’t really care that much and so we got into shoplifting.

I figured we’d just take a little stuff here and there and that would supplement the credit cards and the money I got from my mother.

I got stopped coming out of a store in Sandy Springs and the police charged me with misdemeanor shoplifting. But my girlfriend was stopped coming out of the mall in Alpharetta and she got charged with a felony. The thing is, she just took a bunch of small stuff, not one item was expensive, and not one sells for more than $100.00. But the cops added them up and they charged her with a felony. Of course she doesn’t a felony because it looks like she’s a serious criminal and with a felony she knows she’ll never get a real job again.

So how come I got charged with a misdemeanor and she got charged with a felony because we did the same crime? Was it because she tried to shoplift a bunch of stuff and I just stole two items?

B.F. in Forsyth County, Georgia

Answer: You were likely charged with a misdemeanor because under Georgia law if the amount stolen is $500.00 or less then the charge is a misdemeanor. It has nothing to do with the number of items that were allegedly stolen; it is solely dependent on the total value of the merchandise that was taken.

As for your girlfriend, her criminal shoplifting charge must be based on the value of the merchandise she is charged with stealing. Under Georgia law, to be charged with a felony it must be alleged that she stole goods totaling more than $500.00. It is certainly possible to be charged with felony shoplifting even if each individual item stolen had a very low value. But the total value of the goods stolen, to be a felony, must exceed $500.00.

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