Shoplifting laws in Georgia were modified in July of 2012, along with many other laws as part of an overhaul of certain provisions of Georgia's criminal code. The biggest change to Georgia's shoplifting law is that the new misdemeanor-felony threshold was moved from $300.00 to $500.00. In other words, in order to be charged with felony shoplifting, you now have to be accused of shoplifting over $500.00 in merchandise. If the total value of the stolen goods is $500.00 or less, the crime is now considered a misdemeanor.
In effect, this will have state courts busy prosecuting more misdemeanor shoplifting crimes and leave fewer felony cases in the superior courts. However, state court prosecutors are used to prosecuting shoplifting crimes, so their strategy will not really change.
What's the Difference between Misdemeanor and Felony Shoplifting?
As stated above, when talking about shoplfting specifically, the only difference in misdemeanor and felony shoplifting is the value of the items alleged to have been taken. (Georgia also has a felony shoplifiting charge on a fourth or subsequent arrest.) Generally, misdemeanor crimes are less severe than felonies. A misdemeanor in Georgia is punishable by up to 12 months in a county jail and a $1,000 fine, while a felony in Georgia is a minimum of 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine in most cases. The usual effect of a felony is that you would be subject to probation for a longer period of time, sometimes up to 4 to 5 years on minimal theft crimes. Of course, neither a misdemeanor or felony charge is desirable, as they will both stay on your record and almost certainly affect your ability to secure work and housing.
If you have been charged with shoplifting and have questions about potential punishments, the lasting effect of a shoplifting conviction on your record, or what will happen on your court date, please call or email me today for a no-cost consultation. Our firm has handled hundreds of shoplifting cases around Metro Atlanta and will be happy to walk you through how I can provide your best defense. Payment plans are available and I will discuss pricing with you upfront.
Please see the right column for related and current, 2015-2016, shoplifitng articles and information. At Zeliff Watson, we have spent years defending shoplifting and theft charges and stay current on Metro-area courts and their practices.