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Facing Georgia theft charges can be an overwhelming and humiliating experience. A conviction for theft can also carry significant penalties—including jail time—even if it’s your first offense. If you have been charged with a theft crime, it is important that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the defenses to theft offenses and how to best defend your case. At the Law Offices of Glenn T. Stern, we have more than 20 years of hands-on experience helping our clients beat theft cases.
At the most basic level, theft involves the unlawful taking of another’s property with the intention of depriving the owner of their property. However, there are many different types of theft. It’s up to the government to charge the correct crime and to present proof of each of the crime’s elements beyond a reasonable doubt. The most commonly charged theft offenses in Georgia include:
Theft by taking is what most people think of when the term “theft” comes up. Under Georgia law, theft by taking involves taking another’s property with the intent of depriving the owner of their interest in the property.
Theft by deception involves tricking someone into giving you their property by using “deceitful means or artful practice.”
Receiving stolen property is charged when someone “receives, disposes of, or retains” property that they know or should have known was stolen.
Theft of services occurs when someone knowingly obtains services, accommodations, or entertainment by deception with the intent to avoid payment.
Most theft crimes are punishable under the same statute. Georgia Code § 16-8-12 provides for escalating punishments for a theft conviction based on the value of the property.
Property Valued at $1,500 or less: Misdemeanor offense.
Property Valued Between $1,500 and $5,000: A felony offense unless the judge determines a misdemeanor is appropriate, punishable by not less than one year and not more than five years in jail.
Property Valued Between $5,000 and $25,000: A felony offense unless the judge determines a misdemeanor is appropriate, punishable by not less than one year and not more than ten years in jail.
Property Valued at More than $25,000: A felony offense, punishable by not less than two years and not more than 20 years in jail.
Additionally, if you have two prior convictions for theft, your third theft conviction will be graded as a felony punishable by at least two years in jail, with a maximum of five years.
Shoplifting offenses, however, are punished differently. If the value of the items taken is less than $500, the crime is a misdemeanor. However, any single shoplifting conviction involving items valued at over $500 is considered a felony. When determining the value of the items taken, the prosecution may combine values from multiple stores over the course of a seven-day period. Additionally, the prosecution may add up the value of items taken from a single party over a 180-day period. In addition, repeat misdemeanor offenders can be declared a recidivist by the court, meaning that an otherwise misdemeanor shoplifting charge—regardless of the value of the merchandise—can be charged as a felony.
If you were recently arrested and charged with a theft crime, reach out to an Atlanta theft offense lawyer at the Law Offices of Glenn T. Stern. Attorney Stern is a veteran criminal defense attorney who takes immense pride in standing up for those who face criminal charges. He has dedicated his career to aggressively advocating on behalf of people charged with all types of misdemeanor and felony crimes. As a skilled negotiator and litigator, Attorney Stern will work towards the best possible outcome from the moment you bring him onto your defense team. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of Glenn T. Stern at (404) 320-1049 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form. We handle cases on behalf of clients in Atlanta and throughout Dekalb, Fulton, Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton counties, including in Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Jonesboro, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Cumming and Dunwoody.