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Benefit from the Experience of Attorneys Bill and Valerie Sherman Former Assistant Attorney General, Assistant County Attorneys and Magistrate Judge

Shoplifting in Georgia: I just made a mistake

Question: I got arrested for shoplifting in Alpharetta. I certainly didn’t mean to steal anything, and I’ve never taken anything from a store. It was just a mistake, just an oversight. I bought about a dozen items and I simply didn’t take one of the items out of the cart and I left the store and an alarm went off and a store security person came over and said I had tried to steal something, in this case a hat worth like $20.00. He basically said I was a thief. He called the Alpharetta police and they came and arrested me.

I have to go to the Alpharetta Municipal Court.

But I didn’t try to shoplift anything, I really just made a mistake, and now I need an Alpharetta shoplifting lawyer and that’s why I’m writing to you for some help and some defense for the charge.

I live in Sandy Springs and I work in North Fulton County. So I do most of my shopping in the North Fulton County area and I have never really been in trouble with the law, at least not for many years. The only thing on my record is an arrest for shoplifting which occurred many years ago when I was a student at Georgia State University in Atlanta studying business. That wasn’t a misunderstanding, and I’ll admit that I did try to steal some beer. But I was young, immature and dumb. I was with some buddies from college and we got drunk and we did some stupid things.

Now I work for a tech company, I’m in management and I travel a lot, and I’m embarrassed about this criminal charge and I sure don’t want my boss, who’s Japanese, to find out or I could get fired.

Can you tell me something about maybe a defense for the shoplifting charge due to a mistake or error? My friend used you for a shoplifting charge and you really helped her stay out of trouble. Thank you.

L.L. in Sandy Springs, GA

Answer:  Anyone can get distracted while shopping. It seems like the multitasking never ends. Phone calls, texting, surfing the internet, interacting with a child, friend or spouse, it’s easy to become distracted and make a mistake.

If someone simply makes a mistake, that can be a basis for a good defense for shoplifting, O.C.G.A § 16-8-14. It may not easy to demonstrate, but if it can be shown to a prosecutor or judge that a true mistake occurred, then that may very well help in a shoplifting case.

As Alpharetta shoplifting lawyers, we always analyze our cases to determine what defenses might work and what facts and circumstances give us the best chance to minimize the criminal charges.

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