Alpharetta Shoplifting Lawyer
Although shoplifting may not seem like a significant criminal offense, a conviction for shoplifting does create a permanent criminal record that can impact your future. Crimes of dishonesty can impede your future employment and educational opportunities and even prevent you from working in some fields. An Alpharetta shoplifting lawyer could advise you of your options and help you determine the most robust defense strategy in your case.
A seasoned criminal attorney who regularly handles shoplifting cases may be able to evaluate the evidence against you, including any witness statements and surveillance footage. Depending on the circumstances, legal counsel may be able to negotiate the best possible resolution to your case. With a reliable legal advocate on your side, you may be able to overcome or minimize the impact of the charges that you are facing.
Shoplifting Charges in Alpharetta
Under the Official Code of Georgia § 16-8-14, individuals commit shoplifting when they try to take merchandise for their use without paying full price for it or intend to deprive the owner of the property of its value. These actions include:
- Concealing or taking merchandise from a store without paying
- Altering or switching price tags to pay less than full price for merchandise
- Transferring merchandise from one container to another
- Wrongfully taking any action to pay less than full price for merchandise
The value of the merchandise, or the retail price of an item, determines whether a shoplifting charge is a misdemeanor or felony offense. Consequences for a shoplifting conviction differ based on any history of prior convictions and the level of the charge. An Alpharetta shoplifting lawyer may be able to offer advice to individuals who are facing either misdemeanor or felony shoplifting charges.
Penalties for Alpharetta Shoplifting
If the merchandise that individuals shoplifted or attempted to shoplift was worth less than $500, The offense would be charged as a misdemeanor under Georgia law, which could result in up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if the merchandise is worth more than $500, then the offense would be considered a felony. Individuals may face a prison sentence ranging from one to ten years for a felony shoplifting conviction.
Subsequent shoplifting convictions, whether for a misdemeanor or a felony charge, carry progressively harsher sanctions. For instance, a second conviction requires a minimum $500 fine instead of or in addition to any sentence of incarceration. A third conviction could result in a period of confinement in a probation boot camp, probation detention center, or another community corrections facility ranging from 30 to 120 days or house arrest for 120 days, along with a mandatory psychological evaluation and treatment.
Penalties for Repeat Offenders
Individuals who have at least three prior convictions for shoplifting, whether misdemeanors or felonies, may face a felony shoplifting charge. A conviction can result in incarceration for one to ten years, with no option to suspend, probate, defer, or withhold the first year of the sentence. As the penalties for shoplifting can be severe, especially for subsequent convictions, individuals who are charged with shoplifting may want to get the advice of an Alpharetta shoplifting lawyer.
Civil Liability in Shoplifting Cases
In addition to criminal liability, individuals who commit shoplifting offenses can be civilly liable to the owner of the merchandise stolen. Under O.C.G.A. § 51-10-6, merchants can sue shoplifters in civil court for compensatory damages. These damages include the value of the stolen property and any other losses that they sustained due to the theft.
If the value of the merchandise is less than $5,000, then the retailers may be entitled to liquidated damages of $300 or three times the amount of their loss, whichever is greater. Merchants also can seek reimbursement of their civil court costs, if they comply with all statutory requirements before filing suit.
Ask an Alpharetta Shoplifting Attorney for Assistance
In some cases, you may have had no intent to shoplift the merchandise, but inadvertently walked out without paying for an item. In other cases, you may have made an error in judgment. Whatever your situation may be, you may have various defenses and options for resolution that may be available to you with the help of an Alpharetta shoplifting lawyer.
Even if you merely were accompanying someone who committed a shoplifting offense, you also could face charges. Therefore, you should not hesitate to get the advice that only experienced legal counsel can offer you.