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Shoplifting Charges in Georgia

Kyle H. Jarzmik Law
Police Handcuffing the Arrested Person

Individuals facing shoplifting charges must get the legal representation they need to seek their optimal outcome and avoid unfair penalties. My mission is to help folks dealing with shoplifting charges get the legal support they need. I proudly serve the Atlanta, Georgia area, as charged individuals seek to protect their right to a fair defense. I am also proud to support clients throughout Georgia, including Fulton, Cobb, Dekalb, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Douglas, Coweta, and Carroll Counties, as well as Lawrenceville and Cumming, with the best possible legal advice. 

Shoplifting Charges Under Georgia Law 

Shoplifting is a criminal offense involving taking merchandise from a retail store without paying. It can also apply to altering price tags to pay less than the stated price, removing security tags, hiding or concealing an item, or removing an item from its packaging to conceal it amongst other merchandise.  

The severity of the charge depends on the state you’re in, the value of the stolen merchandise, the offender’s criminal history, and other factors concerning the context of the crime. The following are some examples of shoplifting charges and penalties under Georgia law: 

  • A first-time offender steals a $100-item from a retail store. This offense would be classified as misdemeanor theft by shoplifting and carries a penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. 

  • An offender steals a $2,000-item from a retail store. This offense would be classified as felony theft by shoplifting and carries a penalty of one to ten years in prison (which could be served on probation).

The following classification highlights the circumstances behind each charge: 

  • Misdemeanor Theft by Shoplifting applies when the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $500. 

  • Felony Theft by Shoplifting applies when the value of the stolen merchandise is $500 or more. 

  • Organized Retail Theft applies when multiple individuals work together to steal merchandise from a retail store. 

It’s important to note that the presence of aggravating factors such as prior criminal history, use of force, or possession of a weapon can result in more severe charges and penalties. 

Possible Penalties for Shoplifting Charges in Georgia 

The following penalties can apply to shoplifting charges in Georgia: 

  • Misdemeanor Theft by Shoplifting. A first-time misdemeanor offense carries a penalty of a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. A second-time misdemeanor carries a minimum fine of $500 and/or up to one year in jail. A third misdemeanor conviction carries a mininum of either 30 days in jail or 120 days in a probation detention center/boot camp or house arrest, and a psychological evaluation (a maximum of up to 12 months in jail).

  • Felony Theft by Shoplifting. A felony offense carries a penalty of and/or one to ten years in prison.

  • Recidivist Theft by Shoplifting. A fourth lifetime shoplifting is a felony offense for any amount of merchandise, with a penalty of one to ten years in prison.  

Folks facing shoplifting charges in Georgia must seek legal advice from a criminal defense attorney who can help them understand the specific charge and potential penalties they are facing. 

Common Defenses to Shoplifting Charges 

Several common defenses can be used to fight shoplifting charges in Georgia, including: 

  • Lack of Intent - Shoplifting requires the intent to take merchandise without paying for it. If the defendant accidentally took an item or forgot to pay for it, they may be able to argue that they did not have the intent to steal. 

  • Mistaken Identity - If the defendant was wrongly accused of shoplifting, they might be able to argue that they were mistaken for someone else who committed the crime. 

  • Coerced Confession - If the defendant was coerced or threatened into making a false confession, the confession might be challenged as involuntary and inadmissible in court. 

  • Illegal Search and Seizure - If the merchandise was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, such as without a warrant or probable cause, the evidence might be challenged as inadmissible in court. 

  • Insufficient Evidence - The prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime of shoplifting. If there is insufficient evidence, the defendant may be able to argue that they should be found not guilty of the charges. 

Seek Trustworthy Legal Guidance 

You deserve to have your rights protected, no matter what. My goal is to provide the best possible support to folks facing shoplifting charges. As your shoplifting attorney, I will the dependable and aggressive representation you need. Call today to get a strong legal team on your side.