No two crimes are the same, so to provide an easy distinction between lesser and more serious crimes, every state places crimes into specific categories. Our criminal defense attorneys note that the two major classifications of crimes in the state of Georgia are felonies and misdemeanors.
Felonies are typically more serious crimes and usually involve some physical harm to the victims or grossly fraudulent financial schemes. Misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by up to a year in jail, the payment of the fine, community service or restitution. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes.
Misdemeanor Theft vs. Felony Theft
Although theft seems to be a pretty basic crime to classify, there are different forms of theft, and some are more severe than others, according to our Atlanta criminal lawyers.
The type of property that is stolen and its worth are the main factors that determine whether a theft will be classified as a felony or a misdemeanor. In Georgia, theft will be considered a misdemeanor if the property that was the subject of the theft is below $500 in value. This is commonly referred to as petty theft. The penalties for misdemeanor theft involve a fine of no more than $1,000 and imprisonment for no more than 12 months.
Felony theft is the theft of property that is valued more than $500. Depending on the severity of the theft, a judge can decide to deem a theft of items valued over $500 as a misdemeanor. This is solely at the discretion of the judge. If a judge considers the theft to be a felony, the punishment accompanying a conviction will be a sentence of imprisonment not to exceed 10 years (under certain circumstances) but no less than one year.
There are other circumstances under which a theft can be considered a felony. They include:
- Any kind of theft involving a breach of a fiduciary relationship.
- The theft of anhydrous ammonia.
- The theft of any government property or bank property by an employee.
- Theft involving a grave site or cemetery decoration.
- Theft of a motor vehicle or part of a motor vehicle that is valued over $100.
- Theft of a destructive device, explosive or a firearm.
- Any theft committed while telemarketing, utilizing a computer or engaging in home repair or improvement.
Whether you are charged with felony or misdemeanor theft, there is one thing that remains constant: You are in desperate need of an experienced Atlanta criminal defense attorney to take on your case. Attempting to fight your charges on your own will only make matters worse.