Is there a minimum amount that must be stolen for Shoplifting?

I frequently have clients ask me about whether there is a minimum amount that must be taken from a store to be charged with shoplifting. Apparently, some large chain stores require more than $5, $10, or even $20 worth of merchandise to be shoplifted before they elect to prosecute. Clients are told that since the amount was over, for example, $20, they must be prosecuted.

Georgia Shoplifting Laws

Under Georgia law, there is no minimum value that the items must exceed to be prosecuted for theft by shoplifting. Evan a 25 cent pack of gum will land you with the same theft by shoplifting misdemeanor that a $500 item will. On the contrary, there are dollar thresholds that affect punishment. If the amount alleged is $500 or less, the crime is now a misdemeanor. Anything in excess of $500 is a felony under Georgia law. (These values changed in July, 2012, when the threshold for determining misdemeanor v. felony charges was raised from $300) The value of the goods is determined by the actual retail price of the property at the time and place of the offense.

While there is no minimum amount that must be shoplifted to be a misdemeanor crime, there are ways to avoid a permanent criminal conviction for shoplifting. If you were arrested, you probably already have a record- for the time being. If you were simply given a citation, but not booked into jail, then your criminal record will depend on how your attorney negotiates your case.

If you have been charged with shoplifting, even if the amount alleged to have been stolen is small, call us or email me personally today to discuss keeping your record clean. Theft crimes can affect everything from employment to immigration status and more. I can be reached directly at: evan@zwdefense.com, or by calling (770) 676- 1340.

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