Is shoplifting a felony offense in Georgia?
Some people think of shoplifting as a minor form of theft. Unlike burglary and robbery, which may target individuals, shoplifting involves a business as the primary victim. Additionally, shoplifting involves fraud, rather than a weapon or the threat of bodily harm or the use of a weapon.
Compared with other forms of theft, shoplifting may seem like a negligible offense to some people. Still, it has a major negative impact on businesses and their customers. Often, when you hear about someone facing shoplifting charges in Georgia, the offense is a misdemeanor charge.
Does that mean shoplifting charges are always misdemeanors in Georgia?
Shoplifting can be a felony offense
As with other kinds of theft offenses, it is largely the overall value of the assets stolen that determines the charges someone faces. Given that the typical shoplifting incident involved, the chances are good that such impulse offenses will typically fall under the threshold for felony offenses. However, those who attempt to take more valuable property could face more serious charges.
Once the total value of the items involved reaches $500, the person accused could find themselves facing felony shoplifting charges rather than misdemeanor shoplifting charges. Georgia state law imposes a harsh mandatory minimum sentence for felony shoplifting offenses. You will have to serve at least one year in prison, although a judge could sentence you to up to ten years. The state will also impose fines and may even order restitution paid to the retail store affected.
You don’t even have to steal to get accused of shoplifting
Businesses sometimes arrest people who haven’t even tried to leave the building yet for allegedly shoplifting. When security professionals or store managers see something that they associate with shoplifting, like a person placing an item in their pocket, the store may detain that individual before they ever exit the premises and therefore before they actually steal anything.
Some people can defend themselves by showing that the store made incorrect assumptions about their intentions. The circumstances leading to your arrest and the value of the items involved will influence what charges someone faces for an alleged shoplifting incident. Exploring all of your options for criminal defense can help you better handle shoplifting allegations.