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How to Defend Alpharetta and Milton Shoplifting Charges


Like most North Atlanta cities, both the City of Alpharetta and City of Milton see their share of shoplifting crime. With the large number of retail stores in the area, shoplifting arrests occur almost daily and offenders are given a court date in the either the Alpharetta or Milton Municipal Courts. Your best shoplifting defense will depend on several different factors and you will want your attorney to speak with you about all of these issues.

1. Your Record or Lack of Record- Usually, courts have more programs available to first offenders than those people who have already accumulated a criminal history. We will discuss your record and whether or not you have any relevant past offenses that we will have to work around in defending your case at our first meeting. It is important to be open with us and tell us about any and all arrests you have had in the past. If you are unsure of whether something will still be on your record, tell us anyway so we can conduct an investigation of our own, if needed. That way, we can deal with the issue beforehand rather than be confronted with it for the first time in court.

2. Your Court Choice- Both Alpharetta and Milton Municipal Courts hear shoplifting cases and you also have the right to transfer your case to Fulton County. Since shoplifting is a crime under state law, you always have the right to a jury trial, which is how we technically transfer the case to Fulton County. Alpharetta and Milton do not have the power to conduct jury trials, so if a trial is your best option, or if after our discussion we decide your case's outcome would be better in Fulton, we will transfer the case. Do not make this decision on your own and do not assume that one court will be easier than the other.

3. The Amount Alleged to Have Been Shoplifted- In 2012 shoplifting laws and other theft crimes in Georgia were changed, which raised the limits on misdemeanor-felony classifications. The new dollar amount of the merchandise must now be $500 or more in order to be a felony under Georgia law. Your fourth shoplifting offense is also automatically a felony under the law. If the amount of the merchandise you are alleged to have stolen is near this threshold, or you are unsure, make sure to discuss everything that may have been taken with your lawyer. We can only help if we know all of the facts about your shoplifting arrest!

In addition to the above-mentioned issues, you will want to discuss various options for actually closing your case. Once we have a better idea of your case, we can educate you on similar cases they have handled and potential outcomes. I usually discuss my clients' options from best to worst- as most people want to know both of these scenarios. A worst case scenario is rare, but it needs to be covered. Usually, only clients with repeat shoplifting offenses or a very high dollar amount of theft will have more serious issues in defending their case. Additionally, if your were informed that the store has evidence you've been involved in other incidents with the same store, that can be something we need to know from Day 1. With that said, remember that a guilty or no contest plea will stay on your record forever. You want your defense lawyer to build the best defense for you in order to negotiate with the city prosecutor handling your case.

If you have been arrested by the Milton Police Department or Alpharetta Police Department for shoplifting or similar crimes, call us directly today to setup a time to discuss your case in detail. We do not charge for our initial consultation and will be honest with you about your situation. Zeliff Watson can be reached at (770) 887-3720 or 24/7.

To read about different programs for first offender shoplifting cases, check out our information on this page that discusses cleaning your shoplifting record.

Check out this article on shoplifting to learn about specific shoplifting laws in Georgia and what store loss prevention officers can and cannot do.

See our whole library of shoplifting articles authored by our attorneys at ZW.

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