In the state of Georgia, shoplifting is a serious criminal offense with consequences that can impact an individual's life. The law in Georgia, contained in O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14, defines shoplifting as taking merchandise without paying for it or depriving the owner of possession of the merchandise or its value. If the amount shoplifted is $500.00 or less, it is charged as a misdemeanor. However, if the amount is greater than $500.00, then it is charged as a felony.
Having a good understanding of the Georgia shoplifting laws is crucial for if you or a loved one has been charged with this crime. As shoplifting lawyers, we wanted to discuss issues related to this increasing criminal activity.
Here are 10 essential things to know:
- Criminal Offense Grading: Shoplifting charges in Georgia are graded based on the value of the stolen property. Again, the demarcation line is set by statute at $500.00; that amount or less is a misdemeanor, over that amount is a felony. Thus, different degrees of shoplifting come with varying levels of severity in penalties – i.e., a felony charge carries greater penalties than a misdemeanor charge.
- Penalties and Sentencing: Penalties for shoplifting can include fines, restitution, community service, probation, or even imprisonment, depending on factors such as the value of stolen items and the individual's criminal history. Each court determines the exact sentence.
- Civil Liability: Shoplifters may face not only criminal charges but also civil liability. Retailers can pursue civil claims to recover money damages, potentially even exceeding the retail value of the stolen items. Some major retailers, like Walmart, are known for aggressively pursuing these types of claims.
- Retailer Rights: Retailers in Georgia have the right to detain individuals suspected of shoplifting if there is probable cause. Understanding the limits of retailer rights and the potential consequences of false imprisonment is essential.
- Juvenile Offenders: The juvenile justice system may handle cases of shoplifting involving minors differently than the adult criminal justice system. Knowing the procedures for juvenile offenders is crucial for legal representation.
- Prevention Programs: Some individuals facing shoplifting charges may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs or educational initiatives aimed at preventing future offenses. Exploring these options can be a strategic legal approach.
- Probation and Parole: Convicted individuals may be placed on probation or parole, with specific conditions to fulfill. Adhering to these conditions is crucial to avoid further legal consequences.
- Record Restriction/Expungement Possibilities: Depending on the circumstances, individuals with shoplifting convictions may be eligible for record restriction/expungement, which can remove (or at least hide) the conviction from their criminal record.
- Legal Representation: Seeking the assistance of a qualified criminal defense attorney is paramount when facing shoplifting charges. A knowledgeable attorney can provide guidance and build a strong defense tailored to the specific case.
- Educational Outreach: Community awareness about shoplifting laws and their consequences is vital. As a law firm dedicated to serving the people of Georgia, we actively engage in educational outreach to promote legal understanding and potential defenses as well as prevent future offenses.
Georgia Shoplifting Lawyers
If you get charged with shoplifting in Georgia, we can help you. Navigating shoplifting laws in Georgia requires a comprehensive understanding of the legal landscape. Whether you find yourself facing charges or seeking guidance, our experienced criminal defense team is here to help. By staying informed and seeking legal counsel, individuals can make informed decisions to protect their rights and navigate the complexities of the legal system.
Now when the question arises: “Where can I find a shoplifting lawyer near me?” – call us immediately!