Shoplifting charge convictions result in punishments ranging from possible probation to incarceration and fines.
While property crimes are not always notorious in nature, property crimes such as arson, robbery and extortion are considered to be very egregious. Prosecutors will intensely pursue convictions and the imposition of tough sentences. Depending upon the type of property crimes charges, and the circumstances of the case, a property crime could be a misdemeanor or a felony.
Shoplifting charges can result in jail time and fines.If you have been charged with shoplifting you should contact our shoplifting defense lawyers at 678-880-9360.
What is Shoplifting
Shoplifting can generally be described as the theft of products from a retail establishment when a person takes possession of an item, conceals it, and leaves without paying for the items(s). This includes hiding an item in clothing, a bag, the packaging of another item, or any other form of concealment.
Shoplifting also applies to non-concealed theft such as wearing an item and leaving the store without paying for it, or taking something from an outdoor display.
Because shoplifting is considered a form of theft, there is a wide range of acts which can result in shoplifting charges. Some of the acts are:
- Altering or exchanging the price tag or barcode on merchandise for the purpose of changing the price;
- Transferring merchandise from one container into another, hiding merchandise in another items container, or placing unpaid merchandise with paid merchandise;
- Any act done with the intent to cause the merchandise to be sold for an amount that is different than the stores legitimate price.
- Fraudulent, fake, and malicious returns using duplicate receipts, returning shoplifted items for reimbursement.
Related criminal acts include manipulating price tags, unwrapping items, fraudulent returns, left handing, and stealing with the help of employees.
Two Types of Shoplifters
Generally, people charged with shoplifting are doing it for their own personal reasons, or they are part Boosters who steal as part of organized retail crime.
1. Snitches who are people that steal for their personal use. People with prior convictions will face an elevated level of prosecution.
2. Boosters (people who steal goods for profit) and Fences (people who buy stolen goods) can be charged with more serious crimes. People who are believed to be part ot organized crime will be aggressively prosecuted. If the prosecution finds that the group operates in multiple states the FBI may pursue federal charges.
Punishment and Sentences
Many people, especially minors, incorrectly believe shoplifting is a petty crime that has no real consequences. The truth is that anyone charged with retail theft is subject to jail time, fines, civil lawsuit, and a permanent criminal record. Even if the act was truly unintentional, (i.e., forgetting about an item in the bottom of a shopping cart) you'll have to prove you did not intent to steal the item.
First Offender status may enable a person to avoid the most serious punishments via .
The outcome of any conviction depends on the particular circumstances of the situation, the recommendation of the prosecutor, and the opinion of the judge. Generally, the following is what to expect when charged with shoplifting in Georgia:
- Shoplifting, first conviction with property value $500 or less; classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment is a fine up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail.
- Shoplifting, second conviction with property value $500 or less; classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment is a fine (mandatory minimum) $500, jail/prison time, and psych evaluation.
- Shoplifting, third conviction with property value $500 or less; classified as a misdemeanor. Punishment is a fine, and (minimum) 30-day prison or 120-day detention/confinement.
- Shoplifting, fourth (or more) conviction with property value $500 or less; classified as a felony. Punishment is a fine, and 1-10 years in jail.
- Shoplifting, conviction with property value over $500, classified as a felony. Punishment is a fine, and 1-10 years in jail.
- Shoplifting, from three separate businesses over seven days or less, with property value (per incident) over $100, classified as a felony. Punishment is a fine, and 1-10 years in jail.
Shoplifting Laws in Georgia
The 2010 Georgia Code O.C.G.A. 16-8-14 addresses Theft by Shoplifting. Specifically, the law states:
- (a) A person commits the offense of theft by shoplifting when he alone or in concert with another person, with the intent of appropriating merchandise to his own use without paying for the same or to deprive the owner of possession thereof or of the value thereof, in whole or in part, does any of the following:
- (1) Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
- (2) Alters the price tag or other price marking on goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
- (3) Transfers the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment from one container to another;
- (4) Interchanges the label or price tag from one item of merchandise with a label or price tag for another item of merchandise; or
- (5) Wrongfully causes the amount paid to be less than the merchant's stated price for the merchandise.
- (b)(1) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft is $300.00 or less in value shall be punished as for a misdemeanor; provided, however, that:
- (A) Upon conviction of a second offense for shoplifting, where the first offense is either a felony or a misdemeanor, as defined by this Code section, in addition to or in lieu of any imprisonment which might be imposed, the defendant shall be fined not less than $250.00 and the fine shall not be suspended or probated;
- (B) Upon conviction of a third offense for shoplifting, where the first two offenses are either felonies or misdemeanors, or a combination of a felony and a misdemeanor, as defined by this Code section, in addition to or in lieu of any fine which might be imposed, the defendant shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 30 days or confinement in a "special alternative incarceration-probation boot camp," probation detention center, diversion center, or other community correctional facility of the Department of Corrections for a period of 120 days or shall be sentenced to monitored house arrest for a period of 120 days and, in addition to either such types of confinement, may be required to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment to be paid for by the defendant; and such sentence of imprisonment or confinement shall not be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld; and
- (C) Upon conviction of a fourth or subsequent offense for shoplifting, where the prior convictions are either felonies or misdemeanors, or any combination of felonies and misdemeanors, as defined by this Code section, the defendant commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years; and the first year of such sentence shall not be suspended, probated, deferred, or withheld.
- (2) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft exceeds $300.00 in value commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
- (3) A person convicted of the offense of theft by shoplifting, as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section, when the property which was the subject of the theft is taken from three separate stores or retail establishments within one county during a period of seven days or less and when the property which was the subject of each theft exceeds $100.00 in value, commits a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than one nor more than ten years.
- (c) In all cases involving theft by shoplifting, the term "value" means the actual retail price of the property at the time and place of the offense. The unaltered price tag or other marking on property, or duly identified photographs thereof, shall be prima-facie evidence of value and ownership of the property.
- (d) Subsection (b) of this Code section shall in no way affect the authority of a sentencing judge to provide for a sentence to be served on weekends or during the nonworking hours of the defendant as provided in Code Section 17-10-3, relative to punishment for misdemeanors.
If You've Been Charged With Shoplifting
If you have been charged with shoplifting, you need to consult with a shoplifting defense lawyer to discuss your situation. Call 678-880-9360 to arrange a consultation.