Shoplifting and theft charges are not uncommon among juveniles and even younger adults. While shoplifting is often caused by a temporary lapse in judgement or peer pressure, the consequences can be severe and lasting. Sometimes shoplifting is motivated by a necessity, such as stealing from a grocery store, but more often it involves everyday retail items like electronics and jewelry from the local mall or big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Target.
Most of the time, shoplifting involves sneaking an item out of the store without paying. However, you can also be charged with shoplifting for switching tags on items, trying to hide an item in another item’s packaging or skipping / mis-classifying items on a self-checkout machine.
Shoplifting is typically a misdemeanor charge, unless the item being stolen was valued at over $300. This limit was once more difficult to reach, but with phones and other electronics becoming more and more commonplace, felony shoplifting charges are on the rise. You can also be charged with felony shoplifting if you steal from multiple stores in a seven-day period and the stolen property is valued at $100 or higher each time. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you still may be looking at any of the of the following punishments:
In addition to the civil and criminal penalties, young people who are convicted with shoplifting may also face additional consequences. Shoplifting is theft, and that can be a difficult thing for employers to look past. A criminal charge on your record can cause additional problems such as:
A lot of times when I talk to parents of children who shoplifted they cannot understand why they would steal. They’ll tell me things like “we always buy her anything she asks for” and “he’s never wanted for anything, why did he do this?”. The answers aren’t always clear but getting to the root cause of the behavior is very important, especially if your child was shoplifting something they did not need or even want. When needed, I can refer psychologists or other mental health professionals to help address not only the criminal charge, but also the full rehabilitation of your child.
During an initial consultation, I can answer your questions about a shoplifting or theft charge. I will help you understand how Georgia theft and shoplifting law applies to your situation and your options for moving forward with a defense. Call or email today to take the first step.