Shoplifting might not sound like a severe crime compared to some others, but the state of Georgia takes it very seriously. Whether it involves a small lipstick or a large-screen television, Georgia’s law enforcement officers, stores and the District Attorney’s Office stand ready to prosecute perpetrators and make an example of them.
What does the state consider shoplifting?
According to the GA Code § 16-8-14 (2019), shoplifting involves taking possession of merchandise without the intention of paying for it. It can involve one person or multiple people acting in collaboration. Changing the price of an item or a package’s contents may also rise to the level of shoplifting, as can putting an item into a less-expensive items’ packaging.
The penalties of a conviction
Instances of shoplifting that involve merchandise valued under $500 are misdemeanors punishable by fines and up to one year of jail. However, shoplifting becomes a felony if the theft involves:
- A motor vehicle worth $100 or more
- Firearms or explosives
- $100 in property taken from three different retail establishments during a 3-day period in the same county
- Fiduciary relationship breaches
- Deception involving computers or telemarketing
A conviction for this felony charge may result in a fine and a prison sentence of up to 10 years. The court tends to punish repeat offenses much more harshly than a first offense. Criminal convictions also have outcomes that reach much farther than you might expect. With a shoplifting offense on your criminal record, you might find that employers, colleges and landlords turn down your applications.
The severity of a shoplifting charge should never be underestimated. Do not simply hope that it will work itself out somehow. Defending yourself from criminal allegations of any sort is crucial in protecting your future and avoiding the consequences.