Running afoul of the law can be a daunting experience, especially when caught shoplifting. If you’re caught shoplifting in Georgia, there are specific things you need to know to help you navigate the situation.
Here’s a guide on what to do if you’re caught shoplifting in Georgia.
What Is Shoplifting?
Shoplifting is the act of taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. In Georgia, shoplifting is a criminal offense and is punishable by law.
Shoplifting can include actions such as hiding merchandise in your clothes or bag, switching price tags, or leaving a store without paying for an item. The value of the item stolen determines the level of punishment.
Penalties for Shoplifting in Georgia
The consequences of shoplifting in Georgia vary depending on the value of the stolen merchandise. The punishment could range from a misdemeanor to a felony.
1. Misdemeanor Shoplifting
If the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $500, the offender is charged with a misdemeanor. The punishment can include a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to one year in jail. Additionally, the offender may be required to perform community service or attend anti-theft classes.
2. Felony Shoplifting
If the value of the stolen merchandise is $500 or more, the offender is charged with a felony. The punishment can include a fine of up to $5,000 and/or up to ten years in jail. The offender may also be required to perform community service and attend anti-theft classes.
3. Civil Penalty
In addition to criminal penalties, Georgia law also allows retailers to pursue a civil penalty from a shoplifter. This penalty is a monetary amount that is meant to compensate the retailer for the stolen merchandise and any associated costs.
The retailer can recover up to $1,000 in civil damages, regardless of the value of the stolen merchandise.
What To Do If Caught Shoplifting in Georgia
If you’re caught shoplifting in Georgia, the first thing you should do is stay calm. It’s important to remember that being caught does not necessarily mean you will be charged with a crime. Here are some steps to follow:
1. Admit to Your Actions
The first step to take when caught shoplifting in Georgia is to admit to your actions. Denying the theft may lead to more severe consequences. Admitting your actions may give you leniency.
2. Stay Cooperative
When caught shoplifting in Georgia, it’s important to remain cooperative with store employees and law enforcement officers. Being cooperative may result in less severe consequences and could work in your favor.
3. Contact an Attorney
If you’re caught shoplifting, it’s important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will help you understand your legal rights and assist you in navigating the legal system.
4. Attend Anti-Theft Classes
In some cases, attending anti-theft classes can reduce the severity of the punishment. These classes help educate offenders about the consequences of their actions and teach them how to avoid shoplifting.
Shoplifting is a criminal offense in Georgia and is punishable by law. The penalties for shoplifting vary depending on the value of the stolen merchandise. If caught shoplifting in the state, it’s important to remain calm, admit your actions, and stay cooperative with store employees and law enforcement officers. Contacting an attorney can also help you navigate the legal system. Attending anti-theft classes can also reduce the severity of the punishment. Finally, it’s important to avoid shoplifting in the future to prevent any future legal issues.
If you’re facing criminal charges in Monroe, GA, don’t wait to seek legal representation. Contact Hanks, Ballard & Barth today to schedule a consultation with our experienced criminal defense attorney in Monroe, GA. We’ll work tirelessly to defend your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.