I HAVE A THEFT CHARGE: WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Theft crimes are wide ranging and can have serious impact on an individual’s life, both immediately and in the future. The first and foremost step anyone facing theft charges can take is to seek the counsel of a criminal defense expert as quickly as possible. We can explain the law behind your arrest and subsequently any possible defenses you may have. Because theft crimes are wide ranging in severity the penalties for such convictions also vary significantly from case to case. Possible penalties for a theft conviction could include jail or prison time, years of probation, hefty fines, and permanent bars from entry into shopping areas, just to name a few. These are all examples of the immediate impact a conviction will have, however such a conviction on your record could also impact your life indefinitely going forward. Theft is rooted in dishonesty, and as such, it will be difficult to maintain housing and employment with such a charge on your record.
I’M NOT SURE WHAT SPECIFICALLY I’M DEALING WITH: WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES?
With this in mind, we can further differentiate severity of a theft charge based on the subcategories of theft, starting from the most serious felony charges to lesser misdemeanors. Burglary is one of several felony thefts, and one of the most serious. Burglary involves an individual entering a property, with or without force, with the intention to commit a theft. Someone convicted of burglary could be facing anywhere from five to twenty years in prison. Fines can be expected to be very heavy and additional probationary conditions are common. The sentence can be made worse depending on whether the burglar enters someone’s home versus a place of commercial business. The second severe felony theft charge is Robbery. Robbery is similar in nature to burglary, but involves direct theft of a person’s property from their person. Because of the direct threat to a person’s wellbeing, especially if the robber is armed, the penalties for robbery or armed robbery convictions are particularly severe. A convicted robber could face up to twenty years in prison for general robbery, or potentially a life sentence or worse for an armed robbery conviction.
There are still other theft crimes that are categorized as felonies, but most of these offenses range from felony to misdemeanor based on the value of the items stolen. Examples of such charges would be theft by shoplifting, theft by deception, theft by taking, and theft by conversion. Georgia Code §16-8-12 (2018) states that property stolen that is valued between $1,500.01 and $5,000 is categorized as a felony and results in a penalty ranging from one to five years in prison. Georgia Code §16-8-14 (2018) states that shoplifting will be considered a felony charge when the value of the items stolen meets or exceeds $500. Theft of property worth more than $24,999.99 carries a much heavier penalty of up to twenty years in prison.
I NEED HELP WITH MY THEFT CHARGE: WHAT DO I DO NOW?
We reiterate that the most important thing you can do to help yourself when charged with any subcategory of theft is to speak to a criminal law expert as soon as possible. You may have rights, privileges, and evidence that needs to be preserved before it’s too late to take such steps. The best edge you can give your attorney is time. Don’t hesitate to call us about your theft charge so that we can get to work. We look forward to working with you.