Though many associate shoplifting with rebellious teenagers, this is something many adults are charged with. As such, understanding the penalties of this crime is critical if you are accused of or charged with shoplifting. Additionally, you’ll want to connect with a Cobb County shoplifting attorney to discuss your circumstances. The following blog explores what you must know about these charges and what potential defenses may apply to your case.
What Constitutes Shoplifting in Georgia?
In Georgia, shoplifting is much more than simply walking out of a store with a stolen item. As such, you can be charged with shoplifting if any of the following circumstances apply:
- Concealing and taking goods from a retail establishment
- Altering or manipulating the price tag of an item
- Changing the price tag of an item
- Transferring the goods out of the store through a container
- Wrongfully causes the product to ring up for less than its value
What Penalties Can I Face?
If you are charged with shoplifting, you may assume you’ll receive a slap on the wrist or a stern talking to. However, this is far from the truth. In reality, if you are charged with shoplifting, you can expect to face severe consequences for this crime.
If you take less than $500 worth of items, you will face a misdemeanor charge, which carries up to one year in prison and a fine. For each misdemeanor shoplifting charge you face, the penalties will increase. For example, a second conviction warrants a mandatory minimum fine of at least $500, potential jail time, and a mandatory psychiatric evaluation.
If you take items worth over $500, you face felony charges. As such, you can expect up to ten years in prison and a hefty fine for the crime. Additionally, if it’s discovered that you stole from three separate locations within three days, you’ll also face a felony even if the items were not of high value but at least $100 per incident.
Are There Any Potential Defenses?
Though it may not seem likely, there are defenses you can use to help if you are facing shoplifting charges. Generally, the prosecution must prove intent to steal, which can be difficult. For example, if you were using a self-checkout, the store may claim you did not scan the item. However, security footage may show that you did scan it, meaning the checkout machine did not register the item. As such, you had no intent to steal, making a conviction difficult.
At the Miller Law Group, we understand how complex these matters can be, especially if you are wrongly accused. That’s why our team will do everything possible to help you navigate these challenging times. Our firm will explore all potential defenses to determine the best course of action for your unique circumstances. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you through these matters.