The crime of larceny is defined as the taking of the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. Any item of personal property that has value can qualify as “property” for the purposes of the definition of larceny. When property is “of another,” it means that another person or entity has legal claim to ownership of the item.
The value of the property taken determines whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony. The criminal penalty for larceny depends on the value of the property taken, i.e., whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony.
What Does It Mean to Deprive Someone of Their Property?
Depriving someone of their property means to take and keep property that belongs to another person or entity either temporarily or permanently. That includes disposing of the property in such a way that the owner is not able to recover it.
Does Georgia Have a Larceny Charge?
Like other states, Georgia does have a statute which makes larceny a crime. In Georgia, however, the crime of taking the property of another is referred to as “theft by taking” rather than “larceny”.
Georgia law defines a number of other theft crimes. Three examples are as follows:
Theft by Shoplifting: Shoplifting is doing certain actions with the intent of taking merchandise from a store without paying for it. Or, it could be defined as a form of theft because it involves depriving the owner of possession of merchandise or its value. Most people think of shoplifting as taking merchandise in a store and walking out of a store without paying for the items. There are a number of other ways to commit shoplifting.
Georgia law defines five kinds of shoplifting. A person who completes these actions in whole or just in part can be guilty of shoplifting: concealing or taking possession of the merchandise of any store, altering price tags on merchandise, switching price tags, wrongfully causing the amount to be paid to be lower than it is supposed to, or moving merchandise into a different container.
Theft by Deception: In Georgia, if a person takes the property of another through some kind of deceit, rather than by simply taking it, the crime is theft by deception. An example of theft by deception would be billing a person for a job that was never in fact completed.
Or, if a person makes false statements in order to convince another person to allow them to take the other person’s property, that can meet the definition of theft by deception. Or, if a person persuades another person through dishonesty to give them permission to take the other person’s property, that can be theft by deception. Another form of theft by deception would be persuading another person to buy some item of property when the seller knows that there is a lien on the property or that it is security for a loan, so its value is less than the person believes.
Theft by Extortion: Yet another theft crime in Georgia is theft by extortion. Under Georgia law, there are six ways in which a person can commit theft by extortion. A person perpetrates theft by extortion if they unlawfully obtain property of value from another person by making threats. The six threats under Georgia law that constitute extortion are as follows:
- A threat to Inflict bodily injury on another person or commit some other criminal offense;
- A threat to falsely accuse another person of a criminal offense;
- A threat to disseminate information that tends to subject another person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to damage the person’s credit or business reputation;
- A threat to take or withhold action as a public official or cause an official to take or withhold action;
- A threat to cause or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective action if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act; or
- A threat to testify or provide information, e.g. to the police, or not to testify or provide information regarding another person’s legal claim or defense.
There are other theft crimes in Georgia as well. This list is not exhaustive.
What Is the Crime of Theft by Taking in Georgia?
The crime of theft by taking is committed when a person unlawfully takes the property of another with the intent to deprive them of it. It can also be committed when a person comes into possession of the property of another in a lawful manner, but then fails to return it to its rightful owner. So, for example, a person might commit theft by taking if they rent a power tool, thus taking possession of it lawfully, but never return it to the rental company.
Some examples from Georgia case reports are as follows:
- Burglary and Theft: A person was convicted of misdemeanor theft in Georgia when they broke into the victim’s house and took the victim’s gun, which was valued at $80.00. The perpetrator’s sister found the gun a month later and turned it over to the police. The perpetrator was convicted of both burglary for breaking into the house, and misdemeanor theft by taking.
- Felony Theft for Taking a Car: A person was convicted of felony theft when they stole personal property from the house of two victims and then took the car of a third victim. The Court found the defendant guilty of felony theft by taking, because the value of the property taken was worth more than $500..
- Felony Theft for Taking a Car: In another case involving a car, a person took a car for a test drive. The person returned the car that day but the next day, it was missing from the lot. The perpetrator was caught driving the car hours after it had been reported stolen. It turns out the perpetrator had had the key copied while they had the car out for a test drive and later stole it with the duplicate key. After a jury trial, the perpetrator was convicted of felony theft by taking, given the value of the car.
Can I Be Accused of Theft by Taking in Georgia If the Victim Is a Financial Institution?
The victim of the crime of theft by taking can be a financial institution such as a bank, credit union, or other kind of organization.
What Kind of Crime Is Theft by Taking in Georgia?
The category of crime that theft by taking falls into depends on the value of the property. If the stolen property is valued at $500 or less, the theft by taking is a standard misdemeanor. IF the value of the property taken is more than $500, then the crime would be charged as a felony.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Georgia?
The penalty for a standard misdemeanor in Georgia is up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of as much as $1,000. Felony theft by taking is punishable by a term of imprisonment of from 1 to 10 years; the person convicted would probably serve their sentence in the state prison as opposed to the county jail. Factors other than the value of the property taken can affect the severity of the sentence if a person is convicted of theft by taking.
Should I Talk to a Lawyer?
As you can see, Georgia law regarding theft crimes are quite complicated. Also, an accusation of theft can have a negative effect on your employment prospects as well as your personal life.
Of course, conviction of misdemeanor theft by taking can land you in jail. If you have been charged with theft by taking, you should consult an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer immediately regarding your theft by taking charge in Georgia.