How serious is shoplifting?

Shoplifting is one of the more common types of theft across the country. Many people may have thought about pocketing a small item from a store from time to time. It may not seem like a big deal to steal something worth less than ten dollars.

However, shoplifting of any kind is still a crime. In some cases the punishments for shoplifting can be quite severe. The consequences for this type of theft vary from state to state. Here’s what you should know about shoplifting and its consequences in Georgia.

Definition

The definition of theft via shoplifting is fairly straight forward. Theft is roughly defined as unlawfully taking or being in unlawful possession of the property of another person or entity, with the intent of depriving the original owner of the property. A person can be accused of shoplifting if they:

  • Conceal or take goods or merchandise from any retail store
  • Alter the price tag on goods or merchandise – this includes switching the price tag of two items
  • Transfer goods or merchandise from one container to another
  • Intentionally and wrongfully pays less than the stated price for an item or good.

Consequences

The consequences of shoplifting in Georgia can be severe. The law states that a person charged with misdemeanor-level theft can face up to one year in jail, plus a fine. Misdemeanor-level theft occurs if the stolen property is $500 or less.

Felony-level theft is much more serious with much higher consequences. This type of theft is punishable by up to ten years in prison plus a fine. Felony-level theft occurs if stolen property is valued over $500.

If property is stolen from three or more stores in the same county, within three days, this also qualifies as felony theft. Theft of a vehicle, theft using a computer and theft of a firearm also qualify as felony theft, among other actions.

As you can see, shoplifting can be serious. Though many people may brush off shoplifting as a small offense, the law, and the store, may not see it that way.

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