Shoplifting is the crime of taking merchandise from a retail store without paying for it. Each state has its own law making the act of shoplifting a crime. Many states categorize shoplifting as a form of petty theft, and thus a misdemeanor crime. However, in Georgia, shoplifting can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Whether a shoplifting charge is a felony charge or a misdemeanor charge in Georgia depends on a couple of different factors.

What Is Shoplifting in Georgia?

According to Georgia law, the crime of shoplifting, known as theft by shoplifting in Georgia, occurs when a person, working alone or with other people, takes merchandise without paying and with the intent to either deprive the owner of any part of the value of the item or to appropriate the item for their own use. A person commits the act of shoplifting by:

  • Taking or concealing merchandise from a store
  • Altering the price marking on an item to reflect a different price
  • Transferring the store’s merchandise from one container to another
  • Exchanging the label on one item with the label from another item
  • Causing the merchandise to be sold for another amount than the price intended by the store

Are Shoplifting and Theft by Taking the Same Charge in Georgia?

No. Theft by taking in Georgia occurs when a person takes property from another individual. When taking the property, they intend to permanently deprive the owner by not giving the property back. Whereas theft by taking generally involves an individual’s personal property, theft by shoplifting focuses solely on taking merchandise without paying for it.

What Is the Penalty for a First Misdemeanor Theft by Shoplifting Offense in Georgia?

If a person is convicted of theft by shoplifting for the first time and the value of the stolen merchandise is $500 or less, then they are guilty of a standard misdemeanor under Georgia law. The punishment for a misdemeanor conviction in Georgia is a maximum of 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

Will I Face Additional Penalties for Subsequent Misdemeanor Theft by Shoplifting Convictions?
Yes. A conviction of a second misdemeanor offense of theft by shoplifting in Georgia will result in an additional penalty of a fine of at least $500. The fine cannot be probated or suspended. This financial penalty may be in lieu of any possible prison time that might otherwise result the conviction, or the additional fine may also be in addition to a period of imprisonment.

A third misdemeanor theft by shoplifting conviction will result in imprisonment for at least 30 days, 120 days of confinement in an alternative probation-incarceration boot camp, or 120 days of house arrest in addition to or in lieu of a fine that would otherwise be imposed for the crime. Additionally, a person convicted of misdemeanor theft by shoplifting for the third time may be required to undergo and pay for a psychological evaluation and treatment. This punishment cannot be deferred, suspended, withheld, or probated.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

A conviction of theft by shoplifting comes with serious consequences, especially if you have already been convicted of this crime in the past. Contact a Georgia lawyer immediately to get help with your theft by shoplifting case.