Prosecuting and Punishing Shoplifters
In order to be convicted of shoplifting in Georgia, you do not have to leave the store with merchandise. Rather, all the prosecution has to show is “an intent to deprive.” Oftentimes, this happens when someone puts something in their pocket or their purse and then walks around the store.
Shoplifting is a serious charge, and most big retail stores (such as Wal-Mart) will push for your prosecution and request the maximum penalty. Shoplifting is usually a misdemeanor, however the punishment will vary based on the value of the property in question. If the value of the shoplifted merchandise is $500 or less, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. If the value merchandise exceeds $500, you will be charged with a felony and faced with one to ten years’ imprisonment, which could absolutely ruin your life.
For a second offense, you will be required to pay a $500 fine in addition to any jail time that is sentenced. For a third offense, you can be required to undergo a psychological evaluation and treatment at your own expense and serve time in a diversion center or probation detention facility in addition to other penalties. Finally, for a fourth or subsequent offense, you will be charged with a felony and faced with one to ten years’ imprisonment without the option of having the first year of your sentence probated or suspended.
Defending Shoplifting Cases
In my shoplifting cases, I make a point to visit the store where the alleged shoplifting incident occurred. While there, I view the store as a whole and the area in which my client is alleged to have shoplifted. I also schedule a meeting with the store’s management. If I can convince them that something was an honest mistake, then we may be able to have the shoplifting charge dropped before court.
While I am in the store, I also go ahead and get a copy of any surveillance footage showing the alleged shoplifting incident so that I can have the evidence before the prosecution does. This aids me in determining the best way to fight the charge.
Shoplifting is a serious crime that is prosecuted vigorously in Georgia. You need an experienced criminal lawyer that knows how to beat the charge and will do everything possible, including going to the store, in order to win your case.
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