In Georgia, larceny is defined as theft by taking. Larceny is the crime of taking property that belongs to someone else without that person’s permission. The perpetrator must take the property with the intent of permanently depriving the true owner of it.
“To deprive” means to keep, give away, sell, or barter away the property, so that its rightful owner cannot regain possession of it. If a person attempts to bring the property that they have stolen into Georgia, they will be charged with an additional crime, the crime of bringing stolen property into the state.
Can I Get in Trouble for Simply Bringing Stolen Property into Georgia?
A person can be charged with a crime simply for bringing stolen property into the state of Georgia. Georgia has made it a crime to bring stolen property across state lines. In Georgia law, the crime is called “theft by bringing stolen property into the state.” A person commits this kind of theft by bringing into Georgia property that they know or should know has been stolen in another state.
The fact that the person who brings stolen property across state lines into Georgia can be inferred from either direct or circumstantial evidence. A jury that has to determine whether the perpetrator knew or should have known that the property was stolen can look at the circumstances of the crime in order to decide if the facts shown would lead a reasonable person to believe the property was stolen.
So, in other words, if after considering all of the facts of the case, the jury decides that a reasonable person would know that the property was stolen, the jury can find the accused guilty.
Is This Crime the Same as Receiving Stolen Property in Georgia?
Georgia has a different law for the crime of receiving stolen property. The law in Georgia refers to this crime as “theft by receiving stolen property.” The crime of theft by receiving stolen property involves buying or accepting stolen property from another person.
Under this law, it is illegal to purchase or receive any property stolen if the person knew or should have known that the property was stolen. The crime of theft by bringing stolen property into the state revolves around crossing the state border into Georgia in possession of property that was stolen outside of the state.
Is Theft by Bringing Stolen Property into State a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
This crime can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the stolen property at issue in the case. If the value of the stolen property is found to be greater than $1,500, then the crime is charged as a felony. For property valued at $1,500 or less, the crime is charged as a misdemeanor.
Some possible defenses to a charge of bringing stolen property into Georgia are as follows:
- Miscalculation of Value: The value of the property has a direct effect on whether the crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, with a misdemeanor being punished less severely. So, if the accused can present convincing evidence to the effect that the fair market value of the property was not accurately calculated, or that some measure other than the fair market value of the property was used, then this could affect the nature of the crime and might reduce a felony to a misdemeanor; .
- Consent: The accused can try to show that they had the consent of the owner to bring the property into Georgia. If the accused could present convincing evidence of consent, this would defeat the prosecution;
- Mistaken identity: It is always possible in a criminal case for the accused perpetrator to argue that they are not the person who brought the stolen property into Georgia and that the case is one of mistaken identity.
- Of course, the person who wants to succeed with this defense would have to present persuasive evidence of how it is that the police arrested the wrong person. It would help to be able to point to some other person as the real culprit and then have an explanation as to why the accused ended up arrested and charged and not the real perpetrator;
- Accident: Georgia law requires that the property is taken into Georgia by a person who knows or should have known that it was stolen. So, one defense would be to present evidence that the accused perpetrator did not know the property was stolen and a reasonable person would not have known that it was stolen.
Remember, however, that not having direct knowledge that the property was stolen does not mean that an accused person cannot be convicted. The jury may consider circumstantial evidence and then decide that a reasonable person would know the property was stolen. If the jury is convinced that a reasonable person would have known that the property was stolen, the jury may convict the accused perpetrator.
What Kind of Punishment Will I Face for a Misdemeanor?
If a person is convicted of misdemeanor bringing stolen property into Georgia, the person may be sentenced to a maximum of 12 months in county jail and may also have to pay a fine of up to $1,000. Of course, this means that the person could be sentenced to any amount of time up to and including one year in the county jail and fined for any amount of money up to $1,000.
If the stolen property was worth more than $24,999.99, then the crime is charged as a felony and it can be punished by a prison term of between two and twenty years.
If the property has a value of between $5,000 and $25,000, then the punishment is a prison sentence of between one and ten years. However, a judge could reduce the crime to a misdemeanor.
Finally, if the property has a value of between $1,500.01 but less than $5,000, then the prison term is between one and five years. Also, the trial judge, at their discretion, may treat the crime as a misdemeanor.
If the crime is a third conviction, then it must be treated as a felony offense, and the penalty will be a prison term of from one to five years.
Do I Need a Lawyer’s Help for My Charge?
If you are being investigated for bringing stolen property into Georgia, or if you have been charged with this crime, you should consult an experienced Georgia criminal defense lawyer right away to learn how you can fight your charge and avoid a lengthy jail sentence.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer will know what defenses are available to you and how to obtain the evidence needed to prove your defense. So, you want an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.