If you’ve been charged with theft, you’re probably feeling quite stressed out. This is natural since society frowns on thieves and the criminal penalties can be harsh. The good news is that you may be able to avoid conviction if you hire an Atlanta theft defense lawyer. Even if a court finds you guilty, good Atlanta theft defense lawyers may be able to get your punishment reduced. That’s why you should never attempt to fight the charge on your own.
There are several defenses to theft. The Atlanta criminal defense attorneys at Howard & Arca will review the facts of your case and come up with the best response. We are committed to protecting your rights so we will take a close look at everything, beginning with your arrest. If there’s any indication that the police acted improperly or unlawfully, we will ensure the court knows about it. We will work hard to prevent you from getting convicted.
One of the first things you should do if you’ve been accused of theft is to contact a lawyer. Even if you are innocent, you could still be found guilty, especially if you represent yourself. You need to have someone on your side who knows Georgia laws well. They need to be capable of representing your interests.
If you are facing theft charges, call the Atlanta theft defense lawyers at Howard & Arca today. We will provide a risk-free consultation and aggressively defend your rights. Don’t take on the state alone, your expert attorneys are here for you.
How is Theft Defined Under Georgia Law?
When you think of theft, you probably picture someone taking an object which belongs to someone else. This is considered theft by taking. Theft is defined as when a person “unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which property is taken or appropriated.” “Depriving” refers to:
- withholding someone’s property permanently or temporarily
- disposing of the property and making it unlikely the owner can recover it
“Property of another” refers to items in which anyone else but the accused has an interest. It doesn’t include property owned by your spouse. You can’t be found guilty of theft if you take something which you partially own.
Theft by taking covers a wide range of possibilities. That’s why you need an experienced Atlanta theft attorney with Howard & Arca who understands all the nuances. This gives you the best chance of fighting a conviction.
While theft by taking is the most common type of theft, it is definitely not the only one. A variety of actions can result in theft charges under Georgia law. Other types of theft include:
- theft of services
- theft by deception
- theft by shoplifting
- theft of lost or mislaid property
- theft by conversion
- theft by receiving property stolen in another state
- theft by extortion
- theft by bringing stolen property into the state
A good theft lawyer will explore all the potential defenses in theft cases. If you are accused of theft by taking, common defenses are:
- Repossession: Reclaiming something you sold to someone after they defaulted on the payments can’t be considered theft.
- Innocence: An alibi or witness statement can be used to prove that you didn’t take anything
- Unsuccessful attempt: If you tried to take something but you didn’t get it, you can’t be guilty of theft.
- Lack of intent: Theft is based on a clear intent to deprive someone of their property. If you forgot to return something you borrowed, this isn’t theft.
What is the Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Theft?
Theft crimes can be either misdemeanors or felonies. The determining factor is usually either the value or the nature of the item involved. If the offense concerns property valued at $500 or less, it’s a misdemeanor. Your punishment is likely to be a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 12 months in prison.
For offenses involving property valued at more than $500, the judge can determine whether it’s a felony or misdemeanor. If the judge charges you with felony theft, you face imprisonment for between one and ten years. Theft is also treated as a felony if it is:
- theft of property belonging to the government or a bank by an employee. This is also punishable by one to 15 years in prison and/or a fine.
- theft of anhydrous ammonia. This results in one to ten years in prison.
- theft linked to the breach of a fiduciary relationship. This is punishable by one to 15 years in prison and/or a fine.
- theft of a vehicle or a vehicle part worth more than $100. Prison time can be between one and ten years.
- theft concerning a cemetery decoration or gravesite. This results in one to three years of imprisonment.
What is the Punishment for Shoplifting in Georgia?
Shoplifting is usually thought of as simply taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. This is one form. However, you can also be found guilty of shoplifting if you:
- Alter the price tag on goods
- Switch the label or price tag from one piece of merchandise to another
- Transfer goods from one container to another
- Otherwise cause an amount to be paid that is less than the stated price
Shoplifting is a misdemeanor if the stolen property is valued at $300 or less. However, it is a felony if:
- The property has a value of more than $300
- The property is stolen from three different stores in the same county over a seven-day period. The goods must be worth at least $100 in each instance.
A first offense misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of no more than $1,000 and prison time of up to 12 months. For a second shoplifting offense, the court will impose an additional fine of at least $250 and/or a period of imprisonment. Third offenses trigger a sentence of 30 days in prison or alternative confinement for 120 days. The offender may also be ordered to get a psychological evaluation at their own expense. Fourth and subsequent offenses result in a prison term of one to ten years. This punishment can’t be suspended.
Contact A Criminal Defense Attorney at Howard & Arca
People in Atlanta take theft charges seriously. If you are convicted, you will be viewed with suspicion by potential employers and landlords. Theft crimes stay on your criminal record and they can haunt you for years to come. That’s why you should get an attorney on the case as soon as possible.
Our Atlanta theft defense lawyers have years of experience in handling theft cases. Whether you’re facing felony charges or a simple shoplifting accusation, contact us today, we can represent you. We work hard to build a strong attorney-client relationship as we seek to get you the best outcome. Call us today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you.