If you have been charged with shoplifting in Forsyth County, Georgia, Zeliff|Watson is who you go to for your defense. Recently named "Best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Forsyth" by the Forsyth County News, both attorney Zeliff and Watson have handled into the hundreds of shoplifting cases, obtaining results for their clients that set the record straight.
Forsyth County Shoplifting: What to Expect in Court
Forsyth County prosecutes shoplifting cases in both the Forsyth Magistrate Court and the Forsyth State Court. On occasion, the Superior Court may prosecute a case, but only if its a felony shoplifting charge. If the amount of merchandise alleged to have been taken is less than $500, you are facing a misdemeanor charge, while if it exceeds $500, you could be prosecuted under felony shoplfting laws.
Typically, a shoplifting prosecution starts in one of two ways: either you are given a citation (ticket) by a Forsyth County Sheriff Deputy, or you are actually arrested and booked into the Forsyth County Jail on the charges. Either way, you will likely be given a first court date in the Magistrate Court. If you were given a ticket only, your criminal record does not immediately reflect the charges, which is to your advantage. Unfortunately, if you were booked at the jail, the instant your fingerprints and mugshot are taken, you have a everlasting-record, unless a deal can be negotiated in court.
It is important to hire a lawyer before your first court date. The sooner we are hired on the case, the sooner we can obtain the evidence and file paperwork with the court and prosecutor regarding your case. Waiting until the first court date or later in your case can but you at a huge disadvantage on cleaning your record and restoring your good name.
Getting you Pretrial Diversion to Clean Your Record
Typically, if you have no prior criminal record, we will attempt to negotiate for a dismissal of your shoplifting case through an agreement with the prosecutor's office, commonly called pretrial diversion. The diversion agreement will likely include community service work, a class or counseling, and a fee payment that must be completed before your case is closed. The advantage to an agreement like this would be that your case would stay out of the court system and allow you to keep your record clean. Record restriction (expungement) would be negotiated as part of any pretrial agreement. There is no set deal in place for any case in Forsyth County, so while we cannot guarentee a particular outcome, we can certainly use our experience to put you in the best position to obtain a favorable, record cleansing disposition.
If you have had prior offenses, or if you simply choose not to do a pretrial program, then our office would represent you throughout your case in Forsyth County. Cases may proceed to a trial with a judge or jury, and the Forsyth prosecutor must prove that you are guilty of the crime charged.
Shoplifting charges will affect everyone differently, therefore, there is no one path that must be taken in a case. Immigration issues, work issues, and special licensure or credentials held will all need to be analyzed in deciding how to best defend your case.
If you have been charged with shoplifting in Forsyth County, give our office a call today. We will set up a face to face appointment with you to go over your case in detail and discuss your best defense. We can be reached 24/7 for emergencies at: 770 676 1340.