Theft is one of the oldest crimes on the books, rooted in the earliest records of human civilization. But theft continues to evolve with the changing times, as evidenced by identity theft and the use of Internet technology to commit fraud. For the most part, theft is charged in relation to the dollar value of the property allegedly stolen, the existence of any prior convictions, and other factors.
Georgia Theft Laws: Overview
Georgia's theft statute specifically identifies several different kinds of theft, including shoplifting, theft of services, theft of lost or mislaid property, theft by deception, theft by conversion, and theft by extortion. General information about Georgia's theft laws, including specific details on theft by deception and shoplifting, are listed below. If you have been charged with theft, a criminal attorney will help you determine the best defenses to use at or before trial.
Georgia Code § 16-8-1, et seq.
Statutory Definition of Theft
A person commits the offense of theft by taking when he unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which the property is taken or appropriated.
- To deprive means to withhold the property of another permanently or temporarily; or to dispose of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it.
Theft by Deception
A person commits the offense of theft by deception when he obtains property by any deceitful means or artful practice with the intention of depriving the owner of the property.
A person deceives if he intentionally:
- Creates or confirms another's impression of an existing fact or past event which is false and which the accused knows or believes to be false;
- Fails to correct a false impression of an existing fact or past event which he has previously created or confirmed;
- Prevents another from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved;
- Sells or otherwise transfers or encumbers property intentionally failing to disclose a substantial and valid known lien, adverse claim, or other legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property; or
- Promises performance of services which he does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed.
Theft by Shoplifting
A person commits the offense of shoplifting when such person alone or in concert with another person, with the intent of appropriating merchandise to his or her own use without paying for the same or to deprive the owner of possession thereof, does any of the following:
- Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
- Alters the price tag or other price marking on goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
- Transfers the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment from one container to another;
- Interchanges the label or price tag from one item of merchandise with a label or price tag for another item of merchandise; or
- Wrongfully causes the amount paid to be less than the merchant's stated price for the merchandise.
Crime Classifications, Sentences, and Penalties
- Misdemeanor (up to 1 yr. in jail, plus fine): Property value is $500 or less.
- Felony (1 to 10 yrs. in prison, plus fine): Property value at least $500, or property is stolen from three different stores in the same county within a 3-day period (worth at least $100); theft of anhydrous ammonia; theft involving breach of fiduciary relationship; theft involving gravesite; theft of motor vehicle valued at $100 or more; theft while telemarketing or using computer; theft of destructive device, explosive, or firearm.
Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through the enactment of new legislation but also through court decisions and other means. Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Georgia Theft Laws: Related Resources
Get Professional Legal Help With Your Theft Case
If you have been arrested and charged with theft, the severity of the charges will largely depend on the value of the property allegdly stolen, your own criminal history, and other factors. But the outcome of your case will come down to preparedness and expertise, which an attorney can provide. Get started today by contacting an experienced Georgia defense attorney.