Being a college student can be challenging, especially when you want to go shopping. Too often, the items you want are out of your price range. Yet, you may have given into temptation and swiped something from a store, only to have security catch you. If you’re now facing shoplifting charges, you will likely fear their impact on your future. By understanding Georgia’s laws, you can prepare for your possible consequences.

How Georgia treats shoplifting

In Georgia, the severity of your shoplifting charges depends on the value of merchandise you took. If you are a first-time offender and appropriated $500 or less in goods, you will receive misdemeanor charges. Yet, your offense qualifies as a felony if you appropriated over $500 in goods. You will also receive felony charges if you took goods from three different stores in the same county over a three-day period, provided the total amount taken from each store exceeded $100.

Your consequences for shoplifting depend on the charges you receive. If you’re facing a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, you may receive a fine, as well as a jail sentence of up to one year. Felony shoplifting charges come with far greater consequences, including a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

The impact beyond charges

As a college student, shoplifting charges can impact your education and career. While your charges will not affect your financial aid eligibility, they could put any scholarship you receive at risk if your school learns of them. Moreover, your charges will appear on your criminal record, which prospective employers can see. Some may overlook them, but others will take them seriously.

Shoplifting charges may seem minor to you. Yet, their legal, educational and professional repercussions can be severe. An attorney with criminal defense experience can help you understand your options for working through them.