Atlanta Shoplifting Defense Lawyers

Shoplifting in Georgia is a serious crime, which is why you need a team of serious legal professionals to stand behind you in the event of a shoplifting charge. Criminal charges can come in the form of both misdemeanors and felonies depending on the items that were allegedly stolen or tampered, and you could even face civil liabilities.

The Burnett Firm is an Atlanta-based legal team that is seeking individuals that need an experienced attorney to come to their defense or have been wrongly accused of shoplifting. Since 1989, our team has been dedicated to protecting the rights of community members, neighbors, and friends that can’t face the repercussions of an unjust shoplifting conviction.

Everything You Need To Know About Georgia Shoplifting

Shoplifting conventionally refers to “concealing or taking possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment” (OCGA 16-8-14). But did you know that you could face shoplifting charges for not even stealing anything? That’s right – altering price tags, moving merchandise into incorrect containers, or paying any amount below the merchant’s stated price are also considered shoplifting under Georgia law.

Because of the wide range of behaviors that constitute shoplifting, defendants may not even be aware that they’re committing a crime. In any case, your defense is paramount to keeping you away from some particularly harsh consequences. Shoplifting charges and sentencing are based on the total value of items in question:

  • Misdemeanor: when the total value of shoplifted goods is $300 or less, then this will result in a misdemeanor charge for shoplifting. This carries the possibility of a $1,000 fine and 1 year of jail time. On your fourth misdemeanor shoplifting arrest, the judge will instead charge you with felony shoplifting, which carries large mandatory fines and prison terms.
  • Felony: for shoplifted merchandise with a value of more than $300, the defendant will be charged with a felony. Shoplifting from multiple stores that together add up to $300 can also be grounds for a felony charge. Fines will vary depending on the merchandise in question and your shoplifting history, in addition to jail time between 1 and 10 years.

What are civil penalties? In a shoplifting case, you could face both criminal prosecution and civil liability. Criminal prosecution refers to the charges or fines that the Georgia legal system hands down upon a conviction. Civil liability on the other hand is brought independently by the organization that was shoplifted. The merchant that is the victim of shoplifting can seek monetary compensation for all goods that were tampered or stolen.

Coming To Your Defense

A shoplifting charge can be especially damaging to your criminal history, so it is important that a dedicated legal team helps expunge it from your permanent record. Contacting an attorney and discussing your options should always be the first course of action.

Am I eligible for pre-trial diversion? First-time shoplifting offenders may qualify for a pre-trial diversion program, dismissing criminal charges upon the completion of community service, a specified probation period, and restitution. (This does not necessarily prevent civil charges from being pressed by the merchant). While pre-trial programs aren’t available in every jurisdiction and certainly require dedication to complete on time, this is the best way to drop your charges as quickly as possibly.

How can I get help? Compulsive shoplifting is actually more common than you might think. While it may be difficult to control shoplifting habits, you should get help before the problem spirals out of control, resulting in multiple convictions and almost guaranteed jail time. In addition to contacting an attorney, you should also find a therapist in your area that can reduce the possibility of future impulsive behavior.

Challenging a shoplifting charge in court is also an option. When you hire a criminal defense attorney, there are several different avenues that the firm can take to fight your shoplifting accusation.

  • Refuting Criminal Intent: according the Official Code of Georgia, the act of shoplifting must have some element of intent. In other words, the act must have been committed knowingly and purposefully by the defendant. If our attorneys can prove that the shoplifting was committed by mistake or was completely accidental, then the judge or jury could exonerate you of any charges.
  • Challenging Witness Testimony: In the absence of video footage, your shoplifting accusation might be based on faulty witness testimony. Unless this information is completely unbiased and error-free, then the initial arrest could have been completely unjust, resulting in a dismissal of the charges.

While the strategies above are not meant to serve as a comprehensive legal guide, this simply serves as a handy legal tool for understanding the basics of shoplifting defense in Georgia.

For more information or to contact an Atlanta criminal defense attorney, call The Burnett Firm for a free legal consultation at 404-630-8599 to discuss your legal options.