Georgia Shoplifting Defense Attorney
Have you been recently arrested or charged with shoplifting in Georgia? Don’t face your charges alone. At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, our team of defense attorneys is prepared to fight for your side of the story and defend you against unfair charges of shoplifting. We represent every client to the fullest extent of the law, seeking to protect their rights at every step of the case. For a criminal lawyer that you can trust, contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ for a FREE legal consultation.
Shoplifting in Cobb, Cherokee & Fulton County
From shopping malls to big box retailers, shoplifting arrests can happen anywhere. In some cases, the offender might be confronted by store security. In other cases, the offender might be caught by surveillance or security cameras. In all cases, you can face serious criminal consequences for a shoplifting offense, like fines or even jail time.
Of the thousands of shoplifting offenses committed every year in Georgia, only a fraction are apprehended and prosecuted by local law enforcement. If you find yourself in handcuffs as a result of an alleged shoplifting incident, the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ is here to help. We provide high-quality legal representation to help you get your life back to normal.
What is shoplifting?
Under O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14, theft by shoplifting is committed when a person takes merchandise with an intent to permanently deprive a store, retail establishment, or merchant of such merchandise. Shoplifting may be committed alone or by acting in concert with other people.
The act of theft by shoplifting can be committed by: (i) concealing the merchandise by hiding it in your clothing, purse, backpack, or other personal items; (ii) exiting a store without paying for merchandise or products; (iii) altering the price tag on goods or merchandise; or (iv) any other facts that cause the merchant to receive less than the stated price for the merchandise.
Can they prove intent?
Under Georgia law, to convict someone of shoplifting, the prosecution must prove the element of intent. In other words, the prosecutor must be able to show that the defendant had a criminal state of mind at the time of the alleged shoplifting. Accidental shoplifting (like accidentally leaving a store without paying) will not necessarily lead to a conviction for shoplifting.
There are many ways for law enforcement to show that a person had the “intent” to commit a shoplifting offense. Similarly, your lawyer will likely explore legal arguments that seek to prove that you lacked the requisite intent in stealing the merchandise.
In Georgia shoplifting cases, the courts have assessed the defendant’s intent by looking at factors like:
- Whether the item is removed from its packaging
- Whether the item is moved from its original location
- Whether the defendant attempted to leave the store with the item
- Whether the defendant places the merchandise inside their clothing or personal belongings
- Whether the defendant pays for some or all of the other items at checkout
- Whether the defendant acts like they already paid for the merchandise or like they owned the merchandise prior to entering the store
- The physical design of the store and whether it has self-service checkout
Penalties for Shoplifting in Georgia
If you get arrested for shoplifting in Georgia, you can face serious criminal consequences. The extent of shoplifting charges can vary depending on the value of the allegedly stolen merchandise and your criminal history:
Shoplifting Less Than $500 of Merchandise: For minor shoplifting offenses, Georgia law punishes this offense as a misdemeanor crime, which could lead to up to 1 year of jail and/or a fine. In most cases, the court will also order restitution, meaning that the offender will have to pay back any value that was stolen from the store.
Serial Shoplifting Offenses: If you are accused of shoplifting from multiple stores over a short period of time, then you may face increased criminal charges. Typically, serial shoplifting offenses are felonies, punishable by up to a prison sentence of 1-10 years, a fine, and restitution.
Shoplifting Greater Than $500 of Merchandise: For more serious shoplifting cases (involving goods valued at $500 or more), Georgia law classifies this crime as a felony, punishable by up to a prison sentence of 1-10 years, a fine, and restitution.
First-Time Offenders: There may be certain legal protections for first-time offenders. If you have a clean criminal record and are now wrapped in the criminal justice system, you may have a better chance at seeking reduced charges, alternative sentencing, pretrial diversion, or probation. Contact a criminal defense attorney today about your best legal options.
Find a Lawyer for Your GA Shoplifting Case
At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, our team of attorneys has over 85 combined years of experience representing clients in Georgia courts. As skilled criminal litigators, we will fight for your freedom and your legal rights if you’ve been accused of theft by shoplifting. For more information, contact us today at (770) 956-4030 for a legal consultation about your case.