Many of the shoplifting defendants our criminal defense attorneys see have recently been arrested for the first time. Shoplifting is a common first offense, which means many people charged with this crime have no idea what will happen next. In Georgia, shoplifting can be charged as a felony, and even a first conviction can have lifelong consequences in addition to jail time and fines. Many people arrested for shoplifting in Atlanta have a dizzying number of questions.
Our criminal defense attorneys answer these queries all the time. Questions like:
- Do I need a lawyer for a shoplifting charge in Atlanta?
- How much is a lawyer for shoplifting?
- What happens to a first time shoplifter?
- What if it is my first offense for shoplifting? Will the courts go easier on me?
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Atlanta, GA, do not make the mistake of taking these charges lightly, even if it’s your first offense. Georgia police and courts take these charges very seriously, and they can be charged as misdemeanors and felonies depending on the circumstances of the arrest. If you need help fighting shoplifting charges, don’t wait to call the experienced Atlanta defense attorneys at Pak & McRae Law.
Understanding the Punishments for Shoplifting in Georgia
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, you may be surprised to learn that even common shoplifting violations can result in felony charges. Under Georgia law, a person will be charged with felony shoplifting charges if the stolen item or items’ combined value is just $300 or more. In fact, you can even be arrested for shoplifting without ever leaving the store, if loss prevention employees think they saw you try to conceal merchandize under your clothes or inside a bag.
Practically speaking, this means some people are arrested for shoplifting simply for going about their business in a store. A felony shoplifting conviction can result in serious fines, which are left up to the discretion of the court. Plus, a felony conviction can result in one to 10 years in jail, with a mandatory sentence of one year minimum. Even a first time misdemeanor shoplifting charge can result in fines of up to $1,000 and one year in jail.
While some people hope that punishments for first offense shoplifting will be less severe, that is not always the case. In fact, depending on the value of the item in question, a first time offender could receive much harsher consequences than even some repeat offenders. If that’s not enough, convicted shoplifters may also face civil fines, which means the merchant can collect damages from the defendant.
What to do If You’ve Been Arrested For Shoplifting: Atlanta Defense Attorneys, Pretrial Diversion, and Practical Next Steps
Because shoplifting is a common first criminal offense, many defendants are eligible for Georgia’s pre-trial intervention diversion programs. These programs allow certain first time offenders to avoid criminal prosecution altogether, so long as they meet certain requirements and avoid reoffending.
However, if a pretrial diversion program is not available, you may be facing the consequences outlined above, as well as any civil complaints brought by the merchant. In addition to serious fines and jail time, a criminal conviction can impact your ability to find work for many years to come, as your criminal history and mug shot will be readily available in background checks.
If you want to minimize the consequences of a shoplifting charge in Atlanta, then it is important to find an Atlanta criminal defense law firm with experience handling exactly these kinds of cases. The experienced criminal defense attorneys at Pak & McRae Law can advise you about all of your options, helping you make informed legal decisions in the long process to come. If there is any way to have the charges dropped, reduced, or to secure a favorable plea deal, it is important to have legal representation to help you understand this process.
The legal process may move slowly after you’ve been arrested, but that doesn’t mean you can wait to start protecting yourself. If you or a family member has been arrested for a first shoplifting offense, call the Atlanta shoplifting attorneys with Pak & McRae Law for an initial consultation. You deserve to go through this ordeal with a committed defense attorney on your team.