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Theft may seem like an unimportant charge, but it can be quite serious. Theft can be a misdemeanor charge if the value of the item is less than $500, but a conviction on your record could be more detrimental than you realize. Don’t take a chance on your future if you have been charged with theft. Contact our legal team today to set up a free consultation for your criminal case.

What Does Theft Mean Exactly?

Theft is the act of unlawfully removing the personal property of the rightful owner without their permission. Under Georgia law, it is broken down into the following charges:

  • Petty theft: Stealing something valued at less than $500
  • Shoplifting: Stealing goods from a store while pretending to be a customer.
  • Grand theft: Stealing something valued at over $500.
  • Grand theft auto: The unauthorized taking of someone else's car or motor vehicle.
  • Burglary: Unlawful entry into a building with the purpose of taking something
  • Robbery: Taking anything by force or threat of force. Types of robbery include bank robbery, armed robbery, where a weapon is involved, and carjacking, where the item taken is a motor vehicle.
  • Credit card theft: Using someone else's credit card information to make purchases
  • Identity theft: Using someone else’s personal information for one's own gain. Examples include credit card fraud and medical identity theft, stealing medical records for illegal purposes.
  • Theft by Conversion: Lawfully obtaining someone else’s money or personal property and then converting that property into funds for their own personal use, without the other person’s permission

The severity of the offense is usually decided by the amount that was stolen. For example, misdemeanor theft by shoplifting is considered to be taking something with a value of less than $500, while larger amounts would be classified as felony theft.

Theft by Shoplifting

The Official Code of Georgia § 16-8-14 defines Theft by Shoplifting as follows:

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.

The maximum punishment for an individual charged with misdemeanor Theft by Shoplifting in Georgia is $1,000.00 fine and up to 12 months in custody. Community service and a shoplifting class may also be required.

Typically, if this is your 1st offense, you could be eligible for a Court Diversion or Pre-Trial Diversion Program.

Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Theft Charge?

It is up to your discretion, but it is always the safest bet. If you want to get a reduction in your charges or possibly have your charges dismissed entirely then you need to hire a criminal defense lawyer with years of experience representing clients like you. Even misdemeanors can have stiff consequences if you don’t have someone protecting your rights. Call us today to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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