Theft Offense Attorney Georgia
The Criminal Code of Georgia establishes numerous offenses involving theft crime, including 17 different theft offenses. If you face any type of theft charge, a plea or conviction can negatively affect your life far beyond the penalties, which can be harsh. You should always get assistance from an experienced Georgia theft offense attorney to assert all available defenses and determine the best strategy for responding to the charge.
Effect of a Theft Conviction or Plea
Theft charges can be misdemeanors or felonies. Regardless of the classification, entering a plea or getting convicted can result in penalties that include monetary fines and jail or prison time. In some cases, the criminal penalties are severe.
In addition to potential penalties, a theft conviction on your record can affect your ability to get a job, be approved for a loan, find a place to live, and other aspects of your life. But you can minimize the effect of a theft charge by working with a skillful theft defense lawyer, like our theft offense attorneys at Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia. We have decades of experience defending against and trying criminal cases. We know how to protect your rights if you’re charged with a Georgia theft offense.
In any criminal case, the prosecution has the burden of proving all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. For theft charges, strong defenses are available that undermine a prosecutor’s ability to meet the required burden. You need a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer to assert them on your behalf and protect your rights throughout the process. Don’t make the mistake of trying to navigate through the Georgia criminal process without legal representation.
Georgia Offenses Involving Theft
Chapter 8 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, titled Offenses Involving Theft, includes five different Articles that establish numerous offenses. In Georgia, theft is not a single offense. Article 1 of the Chapter defines 17 different theft offenses and includes other provisions relating to those offenses. The other four articles in the Chapter address these other offenses:
- Article 2: Robbery
- Article 3: Criminal reproduction and sale of recorded material
- Article 4: Motor vehicle chop shops and stolen and altered property
- Article 5: Residential mortgage fraud
All the theft offenses in Article 1 involve depriving another person of property. The law specifically defines the term deprive as 1) Withholding property of another permanently or temporarily, or 2) Disposing of property in a way that makes it unlikely that the owner can recover it. The law defines the term property of another to include property in which anyone other than the accused has an interest. The term specifically excludes property owned separately by or jointly with a spouse.
Specific Theft Offenses
The theft offenses established in Chapter 8, Article 1 of the Criminal Code of Georgia include:
Theft By Taking
The statute defines theft by taking as unlawfully taking or unlawfully appropriating property in the accused person’s possession, with the intention of depriving the owner of the property. The manner of the taking or appropriation is not relevant to the offense. Theft by taking is one of the most often charged theft offenses.
Theft By Deception
Theft by deception is also a relatively common theft offense. The law defines the offense as obtaining property by “any deceitful means or artful practice,” with the intention of depriving the owner of the property. The law includes complex provisions describing what conduct amounts to intentional deceit.
Theft By Conversion
Under this provision, theft by conversion occurs when a person with lawful possession of another person’s property (or money) converts the property to a use inconsistent with the accused’s possessory rights. The complicated statutory provisions specifically mention leased or rented property and misappropriation of funds by an officer or employee of a financial institution or government.
Theft By Extortion
The offense of theft by extortion occurs when a person unlawfully obtains another person’s property by threatening to: 1) inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit another criminal offense; 2) accuse someone of a criminal offense; 3) disseminate information to impair a person’s credit or business reputation or expose them to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; 4) take or withhold information as a public official or causing a public official to take or withhold action; 5) create or continue a collective unofficial action (like a strike or boycott) if a demand for property is not met; 6) testify, provide information, or withhold testimony or information relating to another person’s legal claim or defense.
Theft of Services
The Georgia offense of theft of services requires deceptively, intentionally, and knowingly avoiding payment for services, accommodations, entertainment, or use of personal property that is available only by making payment for the service.
Theft By Shoplifting
The offense of theft by shoplifting occurs when a person intends to appropriate merchandise to their own use without paying for it or deprives the owner of possession or the value by: 1) concealing or taking possession of the goods, 2) altering a price tag, 3) transferring goods from one container to another, 4) interchanging price tags or labels, or 5) wrongfully causing the cost paid to be less than the merchant’s stated price. The statutory provisions include detailed provisions relating to the penalties for the first and subsequent convictions for theft by shoplifting.
Other Theft Offenses
In addition to the preceding offenses, the Article 1 includes these additional theft offenses:
- Retail property fencing
- Theft of lost or mislaid property
- Theft by receiving stolen property
- Theft by receiving stolen property stolen in another state
- Theft by bringing stolen property into state
- Theft of trade secrets
- Conversion of payments for real property improvements
- Misuse of Universal Product Code labels
- Entering automobile or other motor vehicle with intent to commit theft or felony
- Livestock theft
- Removal or abandonment of shopping carts
Penalties For Georgia Theft Offenses
A theft charge may constitute a misdemeanor or a felony. The value of the property often is a factor in determining the category, as are prior convictions. Generally, a judge has discretion to impose monetary fines, a prison sentence, or a combination of both types of penalties. Some specific offenses are subject to separate penalty provisions in the law. The only way to be certain of the potential penalties when you face a theft charge is to discuss your case with an experienced theft offense attorney.
Defending Against a Georgia Theft Charge
Regardless of what theft charge you face, defending against it with help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer can minimize the penalties and disruption of your life, as well as alleviate the stress of dealing with the criminal process. In addition to the laws that establish the elements of an offense, specific state and local court rules apply during the criminal process. If you are unfamiliar with the process and the criminal justice system, that fact alone can adversely affect the outcome of your case if you don’t have skillful legal representation.
Strategies and defenses are available for every type of theft offense. The theft provisions in the Criminal Code include specific affirmative defenses for some offenses. Other viable defenses arise from the elements of a specific charge, all of which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for conviction. In addition, gathering evidence through investigation to disprove the facts underlying a charge is part of a solid defense strategy.
To fully protect your rights and make certain that you benefit from the best possible defenses, you need a lawyer who knows the local courts and practices, as well as all the laws and rules that apply to your case. Cartersville criminal defense attorney Lance McCoy has decades of experience in all types of criminal cases, including misdemeanor and felony theft offenses. His background includes handling more than 200 criminal jury trials, so his defense representation covers every possible strategy in a case, including going to trial when necessary.
Schedule a Consultation with a Georgia Theft Offense Attorney
If you face theft charges in Georgia, a strong defense strategy is essential. At The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, our extensive criminal defense experience includes handling numerous theft cases of all types. We review your situation, identify the best defenses and strategy for your case, and protect your rights throughout the criminal process. We handle every case with unparalleled confidentiality, professionalism, and integrity.
Based in Cartersville, we serve clients throughout Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, and Paulding County. We welcome you to contact the Theft Crime Attorney at Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia to schedule an appointment.