How to Defeat a Shoplifting Charge
Shoplifting charges in Georgia can be local ordinances, misdemeanors and even felonies. All of the above will have a serious impact on your record and remain forever, unless a better resolution is negotiated. This article has been written by our attorneys to provide you with real, helpful insight on shoplifting charges in Georgia and how to best defend your case.
Almost every retailer- Walmart, Home Depot, Kohls, Publix, etc. - produce shoplifting cases on a daily basis. Often times, clients are detained before they even walk out the front door, though clients have also been arrested days later if their identity wasn't discovered until after they left the premises. If you've been arrested for shoplifting, make sure to write down a detailed account of what happened. Everything is important: Were you arrested or just given a citation? Did you sign papers before the cops arrived? Were you forced to pay $150 or any other fee to the retailer that day? What merchandise did they recover from you? What was the alleged dollar value of the merchandise? Was this a one-time occurrence or did they mention or indicate they had previous surveillance of you doing the same thing?
Under Georgia law, if you're accused of shoplifting more than $500, your case will automatically be a felony and punishable by a minimum of 1 year in prison, though your sentence can be probated. If the amount of items was less than $500, then you can be charged with a local ordinance or misdemeanor charge. There can be important differences between local ordinances and misdemeanor charges, so make sure your attorney has explained them to you along with the benefits of each. Note: I always try to keep a local ordinance charge, if possible. Local ordinance charges can help minimize the visibility of the charge on your record.
If you've been cited for shoplifting, I always encourage clients to take a proactive approach to some predictable court ordered requirements. Certain community service work, therapy and courses can help in negotiations with the prosecutor, especially when we are aiming for a dismissal of the charges. Make sure you speak to us about what our recommendations would be for your case.
Most courts in Georgia have some form of pretrial or first offender program for shoplifting charges. However, the programs and terms will vary greatly from court to court, so do not assume you'll have the same outcome as everyone else in Georgia. Throughout the years, we have learned how to negotiate for the best resolution for your record, rather than some of the less beneficial options. For instance, pleading under Georgia's first offender law is usually not an ideal option for a first shoplifting. Additionally, even some diversion programs have traps we know to lookout for and keep you from falling into.
If you've been arrested or given a citation for shoplifting, give us a call 24/7 to discuss your case. We will go over the most important aspects of your defense with you in our first conversation, and can setup a more in-depth consultation to further discuss your defense. Both of our lawyers represent dozens of clients annually in shoplifting cases throughout Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. We can be reached at: (770) 676-1340.