1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Criminal Defense
  4.  » Is shoplifting a misdemeanor in Georgia?

Is shoplifting a misdemeanor in Georgia?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

There are many specific forms of theft that occur in Georgia, each of which potentially leads to unique criminal charges. Different types of theft offenses carry different penalties based on the nature of the offense and the property involved. In Georgia, crimes that endanger other people, including armed robbery, tend to result in more serious consequences than theft crimes that do not endanger another person.

Many people think of shoplifting as an essentially victimless theft offense. After all, the person accused doesn’t face allegations of stealing from another person but rather from a business. Shoplifting usually does not involve any kind of physical violence or a weapon.

Many people assume that they should receive a lenient sentence when accused of shoplifting. That belief may prompt even those falsely accused of retail fraud to enter a guilty plea. However, shoplifting is not always a misdemeanor offense attached to minor penalties in Georgia.

Some shoplifting cases are more serious than others

The penalties that a judge can impose for a shoplifting case depend on both the value of the assets involved and the criminal record of the individual accused of shoplifting. A shoplifting offense involving $500 or less in merchandise is a misdemeanor offense. The  judge hearing the case can order the defendant to pay fines, send them to prison, order them to submit to probation or even require a special form of “boot camp.”

However, the state can charge someone with a felony if they shoplift items worth more than $500. Shoplifting also becomes a felony offense when someone has three prior convictions on their record. The penalties include a mandatory minimum sentence of one year in state custody and the potential of a sentence of up to ten years.

With a lot of media attention on organized shoplifting and repeat retail fraud offenders, judges might be more likely to hand down significant sentences now than they were just a few years ago. As such, anyone accused of a shoplifting offense likely needs to defend against those charges for their own protection. Reviewing the state’s case with an attorney can help someone plan a criminal defense strategy in response to the Georgia shoplifting charges. Avoiding a conviction is the only sure way to eliminate the worst penalties possible.