According to Hayes International, 25 large retailers said that 1.2 million people were stopped for shoplifting in 2015. While a portion of stolen merchandise is recovered, shoplifting ultimately costs American retailers billions of dollars in lost revenue each year. Take a look at how Georgia state law defines shoplifting and the potential penalties for doing so.
How Georgia defines theft
Under state law, you may be guilty of theft if you unlawfully take possession of an item. Alternatively, you may be guilty of theft by depriving an item’s rightful owner of the ability to use that item after lawfully taking possession of it. This may be accomplished by refusing to return the property or taking other actions that make it difficult or impossible to recover.
Shoplifting is typically a form of theft
Shoplifting occurs when you attempt to take an item from a retailer without paying for it. You may also be engaging in shoplifting if you alter a price tag or take other actions in an effort to pay less than the retail value of a given item. There are several possible defenses to this charge, such as claiming that you had no intent to walk out of a store without paying for an item.
The penalties associated with shoplifting
If you are convicted of taking property that is valued at less than $500, you may spend up to a year in jail. You could spend up to a decade in prison for stealing property valued at over $500. A prosecutor may also pursue a felony shoplifting charge if you steal goods worth at least $100 from three different stores in the same county over a period of three days.
In the event that you are charged with shoplifting or theft, you could face a variety of penalties. An attorney may be able to help you avoid spending time in jail or paying a fine. This might be done by claiming that you were at the MVA at the time of a robbery and that you are a victim of mistaken identity.