If you are facing shoplifting charges, you may be feeling anxious about what you should do next. To many people, shoplifting may seem like a minor offense. However, depending on the amount of property stolen, charges could be serious.
The criminal court justice system can be highly unforgiving, especially if you try to take it on without the help and guidance of an experienced theft attorney by your side. A Ringgold shoplifting lawyer has the necessary knowledge to help you navigate the complex system and help defend your freedoms.
Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 16-8-14, a person commits shoplifting when they conceal or take merchandise from a store. The same also applies if they alter or change the price tag or transfer goods to another container. A skilled attorney is knowledgeable of shoplifting laws and statutes in Ringgold and could answer any difficult questions a person may have when they face conviction.
Some shoplifting penalties a Ringgold lawyer could help an individual fight include, but are not limited to:
If a court finds an individual guilty of stealing property worth less than $300, they may receive a misdemeanor charge on their permanent record. However, if the property is worth more than $300, the defendant could instead face a felony conviction.
A misdemeanor conviction for shoplifting generally carries fines of less than $1000 and jail time of up to one year. On the other hand, a felony conviction for shoplifting can carry a jail sentence of one to 10 years and much higher fees. Further, if a person receives repeat shoplifting convictions, state law requires fines and jail time which a judge cannot suspend.
There are many options available for first-time shoplifting offenders as an alternative to harsh criminal penalties. A diversion program could be a beneficial alternative to traditional sentencing after a shoplifting arrest, depending on the circumstances.
If the prosecutor approves the diversion program, the defendant must attend the diversion classes and other court-ordered classes—they must also make restitution with the alleged victim. Once the defendant completes all courses to the court’s satisfaction, a judge can dismiss the charges, leaving no conviction on their permanent record.
When a person goes to trial for shoplifting, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. The state must prove to the court, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person is guilty of shoplifting for the court to find them guilty. They must also prove that it was not an accident and that the defendant had the intent to commit the crime.
Whether you face the possibility of misdemeanor or felony charges for a shoplifting offense, a conviction could remain on your record forever. Therefore, it is important that you act quickly to retain legal counsel.
A Ringgold shoplifting lawyer could answer any questions you may have and help develop the best defense for your case. Call our office today to get started.