There are more than 27 million shoplifters each year according to the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention. It seems harmless. You just need a few items to get you through to the next paycheck. This is the first and last time you tell yourself, “I won’t get caught.” But, then you are suddenly caught shoplifting in Roswell. So what happens next?
Shoplifting, even a first-time offense, is not something that should be taken lightly. It is a criminal offense and the penalties can be stiff. In some cases, even first time shoplifting can be charged with a felony. If you have been charged with shoplifting you need help defending yourself. Our criminal law attorneys at The Bulldog Firm can help.
How Does the Law Define Shoplifting
Under Georgia law, shoplifting includes more than just leaving the store with an unpaid item. The following actions are considered shoplifting:
- Leaving an establishment with an item you didn’t pay for
- Moving an item for sale from one packaging to another
- Hiding or concealing merchandise while in a store or other retail place
- Changing a price tag or “switching” tags between items
- Smashing a window or door and grabbing merchandise
Shoplifting Penalties in Georgia
Depending on the value of the item or items stolen, shoplifting can be a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalties depend on a few factors. Here is a summary of the possible punishments:
- When the combined value of the property is $300 or less
- For a first offense, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and serve up to one year in jail and fined up to $1000.
- For a second conviction, you can be charged with a misdemeanor and serve up to one year in jail and fined between $250 (minimum) and $1000.
- For a third conviction, the penalties are much stiffer. You will be charged with a felony. Further, you must minimally serve 30 days in jail or 120 days in a rehab facility.
- For convictions beyond on a third offense, you will be charged with a felony for each count. The judge will decide on a sentence between 1-10 years.
- When the combined value of the property is greater than $300 and you are convicted it is an automatic felony. The court will decide on fines at its discretion and on a sentence of 1-10 years.
- If convicted of shoplifting from three (or more) different retailers in one county over a timeframe of 7 consecutive days (and the value is more than $100 from each retailer) you will be charged with a felony. The court will decide on fines at its discretion and on a sentence of 1-10 years.
Smash and Grab Charges
Georgia has a special type of shoplifting charge called “smash and grab.” This law covers situations where the accused smashes something like a car window, store window, or display case and then grabs an item and steals property over $500.00 in value. The penalties for smash and grab offenses are steep, even for first-time offenses. A conviction is a felony and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of up to two years in prison with up to 20 years possible. Fines can be up to $100,000. A second smash and grab conviction results in a minimum prison sentence of 5 years and you can serve up to 20 years. Fines are also up to $100,000 for this offense.
Roswell Criminal Law Attorneys Can Help
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Roswell you need to act fast. Know your rights and fight the charges. Call The Bulldog Firm today for a consultation at 770-408-7000 or contact us online.