Theft crimes encompass a wide range of offenses in Georgia, each carrying specific penalties and consequences based on the value of stolen property, method of theft, and other factors.
Understanding these various types of theft crimes and the legal ramifications associated with them is crucial, whether you are an accused individual seeking legal guidance or simply striving to become more knowledgeable about state laws.
In this article, we will dive into the different types of theft crimes in Georgia and examine the penalties associated with each offense. Additionally, we will explore effective defense strategies employed by experienced criminal law attorneys, like the dedicated team at Hanks, Ballard & Barth, to protect their clients’ rights and secure the best possible outcomes for their cases.
Stay informed about Georgia’s theft laws, and ensure that you are prepared to handle any situation that may arise with the help of our knowledgeable legal experts.
Types of Theft Crimes in Georgia
Shoplifting is taking goods or merchandise from a store without paying for them or depriving the store of its full retail value by altering the price tag or other means. In Georgia, shoplifting offenses involve property worth $500 or less.
Penalties for a first-time shoplifting misdemeanor conviction can include fines of up to $1,000, not more than 12 months in jail, or both. If the retail value of the stolen property exceeds $500, the offense becomes a felony, leading to harsher penalties, including up to 10 years in prison.
- Larceny (Theft by Taking)
Larceny, also known as “theft by taking,” entails unlawfully taking or appropriating another person’s property without their consent, with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of its possession.
In Georgia, theft by taking can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the stolen property and the circumstances surrounding the theft. If the stolen property is worth $1,500 or less, the crime is usually charged as a misdemeanor, with penalties that may include fines, jail time, or both.
However, if the value exceeds $1,500, the offense may be elevated to a felony, with increased penalties, including potential imprisonment.
- Theft by Deception
Theft by deception occurs when an individual uses deceitful or fraudulent means to obtain another person’s property. This may include misrepresenting facts, concealing information, or promising services the individual does not intend to provide.
Similar to theft by taking, theft by deception charges and their penalties depend on the value of the stolen property. If the stolen property is valued at $1,500 or less, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor. However, if the property value exceeds $1,500, the offense is classified as a felony, which carries more severe penalties.
- Theft by Conversion
Theft by conversion is unlawfully converting another individual’s property for personal use or gain while holding possession or legal control of the property. This crime often arises in situations where an individual has been entrusted with property for a specific purpose but uses the property in an unauthorized manner. Similar to other theft crimes, the charges and penalties for theft by conversion depend on the value of the property involved.
- Theft of Services
Theft of services occurs when a person acquires services without paying for them through deception, threat, or other unlawful means. Examples of theft of services can include leaving a restaurant without paying the bill (“dine and dash”) or obtaining cable or utility services without proper authorization. Charges and penalties for theft of services are determined by the value of the services stolen and may be categorized as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Associated Penalties for Theft Crimes in Georgia
As mentioned earlier, the penalties for theft crimes in Georgia depend on the type and value of the property or services stolen. In lesser cases, the offender may face misdemeanor charges, carrying potential penalties such as jail time, fines, probation, and restitution to the victim. In more severe cases, the offender may face felony charges, resulting in lengthy prison sentences, larger fines, probation, and restitution.
Effective Legal Defense Strategies for Theft Crimes in Georgia
Experienced criminal law attorneys like those at Hanks, Ballard & Barth in Georgia use a variety of strategies to defend clients against theft crime charges:
- Challenging Evidence
A qualified attorney will scrutinize the evidence against the accused, including questioning the legality of search and seizure procedures and the reliability of witness testimony. By exposing weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, the defense attorney may create doubt that benefits the defendant.
- Demonstrating Lack of Intent
Since theft crimes typically require the intent to deprive the owner of their property, proving that the accused had no such intention can be a potent defense strategy. Demonstrating that the defendant believed they had a right to the property in question or that taking the property was a mistake can help negate the intent element required for a theft conviction.
- Negotiating Plea Deals
In some cases, a skilled attorney can negotiate a plea deal on the client’s behalf that results in a reduced charge or lighter penalties. This option may be particularly appealing if the defendant has a limited criminal history or the evidence against them is strong.
- Asserting Entrapment
Entrapment occurs when a government agent induces a person to commit a crime they would not have committed otherwise. By proving that the accused committed the theft under such circumstances, the attorney can effectively defend their client against the charges.
The dedicated team at Hanks, Ballard & Barth understands the importance of a strategic defense when facing theft crime charges in Georgia. It is committed to providing its clients with the best possible representation. With a nuanced understanding of Georgia theft laws, these attorneys are uniquely suited to build a strong defense on behalf of their clients, helping them navigate the legal process with confidence.
Defend Your Rights With Hanks, Ballard & Barth’s Experienced Theft Crime Attorneys
Theft crimes in Georgia encompass a diverse range of offenses, and understanding the intricacies of each can be invaluable when facing charges. The potential ramifications of a conviction — from financial penalties to loss of personal freedom — underscore the importance of enlisting the support of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney to champion your case.
At Hanks, Ballard & Barth, our team of accomplished criminal defense attorneys is well-versed in Georgia theft laws and committed to protecting your rights from start to finish. With a deep understanding of the various legal strategies available for each theft crime, we are dedicated to providing our clients with a robust defense that considers the unique details of their situation.
Don’t let a theft crime charge impact your future. Schedule a consultation with one of our Monroe, GA, lawyers today. Allow our expertise to guide you through the complexities of the Georgia legal system and help you secure the best possible outcome for your case, safeguarding your reputation and preserving your future opportunities.