Many people perceive shoplifting as a minor offense. Many people, parents included, even chalk this crime up to adolescent shenanigans. However, the state of Georgia and the victims of shoplifters disagree with this perception. As a criminal defense firm, we’ve seen just how aggressively they pursue prosecution.
However, we believe that one mistake shouldn’t ruin a person’s life, even illegal mistakes. We fight particularly hard for our younger clients who have a lot to lose. Part of defending these personal rights includes educating the people of Georgia on the consequences they could face from a criminal charge like shoplifting.
Punishments for theft
Georgia law defines shoplifting as taking merchandise from a retail establishment without paying for it. Offenders may face a misdemeanor or a felony charge, dependent upon the value of the stolen goods and any past offenses. However, do not take your guard down: even a misdemeanor can heavily impact a person’s life.
If this is your first shoplifting offense and you stole items with a value less than $500, you will likely face misdemeanor charges. If convicted, the penalties include:
- Up to one year in jail
- Fines and fees of up to $1,000
A second misdemeanor shoplifting charge will net you another year in jail and $1,500 in fines. Penalties increase with the third charge:
- A minimum 30 days in jail or 120 days on house arrest or correctional program
- Psychology counseling at the offender’s expense
Additional shoplifting charges will incur up to 10 years in prison. Offenders will face felony charges if the total value of items stolen exceeds $500, even when accrued over multiple crimes.
Protecting young people from their mistakes
A criminal conviction can adversely impact a young person’s entire life. Landlords might refuse to rent to those with records, banks can deny loans and many companies have policies that prevent hiring former criminals. However, a strong defense from a lawyer experienced in protecting the accused’s reputation can help people recover from mistakes made in their youth.