In Georgia, the offense of shoplifting is termed “Theft by Shoplifting,” which is outlined in O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14. Theft by Shoplifting occurs when a person, who acts alone or with another, with the intention of taking property without paying or depriving the owner of the property. The following acts will constitute Theft by Shoplifting, when a person:
- conceals or takes possession of the property of any store,
- alters the price tag on the property of any store,
- transfers the goods of a store from one container to another,
- interchanges the price tag from one item with the price tag of another item, or
- wrongfully causes the amount paid to be less than the store owner’s intended price for the property.
Theft by Shoplifting is considered a misdemeanor when the property taken is valued at $500 or less, which includes jail time up to one year. However, upon the second conviction of this offense, the punishment may include one year of imprisonment and a fine of no less than $500. With a third conviction of this offense, it is still considered a misdemeanor with a fine, but the penalty of imprisonment comes with a few variations. On the third conviction, the court can impose jail time of no less than 30 days, confinement in a “special alternative incarceration-probation boot camp,” probation detention center, or another community correctional facility for 120 days. The court could also order a sentence of monitored house arrest for 120 days. In addition to these varying imprisonment options, the court may require a psychological evaluation and treatment, at the cost of the offender.
When the offender has been convicted four or more times of shoplifting, it becomes a felony and it carries the possibility of jail time up to ten years. Further, the felony version of Theft by Shoplifting includes additional actions that qualify for this more harsh punishment. For example, if the property taken exceeds $500, it is a felony and the penalty is one to ten years of imprisonment. If the property was taken from three different stores within one county during a seven-day period or less and the value of all the property taken exceeds $500, it is also a felony facing the possibility of up to ten years of jail time. Lastly, if the property was taken during a period of 180 days and the value of the property exceeds $500, the penalty is also up to ten years of jail time.
Any guilty verdict of Theft by Shoplifting, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, has harmful consequences with long-lasting damages. It is imperative for those facing this criminal charge contact an experienced attorney. Here at Bixon Law, we skillfully endeavor to get our clients the best possible deals. That does not change even when our clients have multiple convictions. Remember, having multiple convictions does not mean automatic jail time. At Bixon Law, we fight for the latter! Give us a call at (404) 551-5684 to see how we can best serve your needs.