Theft Crimes in Gwinnett County, GA
Most people know that taking someone else’s property is a serious crime in Georgia – and always has been.
Fewer people are aware of the different classifications of theft or the associated penalties.
In most cases, regardless of the circumstances, if it can be proven that property was taken unlawfully, the offender will face a misdemeanor conviction with a lifelong criminal record and other far-reaching consequences.
In some circumstances, a felony conviction may result.
With such high stakes, it’s important to give yourself the best possible chance of a successful defense. Adam D. Brown can help protect your rights and freedoms and has considerable experience in defending theft charges in Gwinnett County.
What is considered theft in Georgia?
Georgia’s theft laws are mainly based on the value of the property taken. The sentence imposed will take this into account along with the criminal history of the alleged offender and other factors.
Theft of property valued at over $500 will result in a more serious charge than the theft of property below this value.
The statutory definition of theft according to O.C.G.A § 16-8-1 is as follows:
“A person commits the offense of theft by taking when he unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which the property is taken or appropriated.”
To be clear, “deprive” in this sense means:
“to withhold the property of another permanently or temporarily; or to dispose of the property so as to make it unlikely that the owner will recover it.”
The “property of another” is that which any person other than the accused has an interest. However, this does not include property belonging to the spouse of an accused or belonging to them both jointly. You cannot be charged with theft if you take assets that you have at least part ownership of.
The most common types of theft in Georgia are theft by deception and theft by shoplifting. These are covered in more detail below.
We also cover the basic differences in the crime of theft by taking and theft by receiving stolen property.
What are the different types of theft in Georgia?
Theft by deception
Theft by deception is committed when the owner of the property is deprived by deceitful or artful means.
Deceptive behavior includes:
- Intentionally creating an impression of a fact or past event that is known or believed to be false.
- Failing to correct this false impression.
- Selling or transferring property while failing to disclose a known lien, adverse claim or another legal impediment.
- Promising performance of services in full awareness that the promise will not be fulfilled.
Theft by shoplifting
The offense of shoplifting is committed when a person appropriates merchandise without paying for it.
The following are some common examples:
- Concealing or taking possession of goods/merchandise in a store
- Altering the price tag on goods or merchandise
- Transferring goods from one container to another
- Interchanging labels or price tags from one item to another
- In any other way causing the amount paid to be less than the merchant’s stated price
Theft by taking vs theft by receiving stolen property
Two types of theft by taking are described above – shoplifting and theft by deception.
Theft by taking is a vast area of law in Georgia and Adam D. Brown will explain what you need to know about your particular charge.
A theft charge can also result from receiving goods that have been stolen. According to O.C.G.A. § 16-8-7 (2010):
“A person commits the offense of theft by receiving stolen property when he receives, disposes of, or retains stolen property which he knows or should know was stolen unless the property is received, disposed of, or retained with intent to restore it to the owner. “Receiving” means acquiring possession or control or lending on the security of the property.”
Felony theft in Georgia
The majority of theft crimes in Gwinnett County are of a value below $500 and are therefore prosecuted as misdemeanors.
However, certain crimes can be classed as felonies or misdemeanors for sentencing purposes (according to the preferences of the judge). These are usually termed “wobblers”.
If an offender has two or more prior theft convictions, for example, the misdemeanor penalty becomes a felony wobbler.
Felony theft in Georgia includes the following:
- Theft of property or services valued at $25,000 or more
- Theft of property involving a breach of a fiduciary obligation
- Theft involving a breach of duties by a government or financial institution officer or employee
- Theft by deception of any property worth more than $500 committed against a person age 65 or older
- Theft of any amount of anhydrous ammonia (used to make meth)
- Theft of a firearm, explosive, or destructive device
- Theft involving a gravesite or memorial
- Theft of property from three different stores in the same county within three days (worth at least $100)
- Theft by extortion (with threats)
- Theft of trade secrets worth more than $100
- Theft of a motor vehicle worth $100 or more
Each of these felonies crimes carries its own range of sentencing options.
What are the penalties for theft in Georgia?
With misdemeanor theft crimes, the standard sentence in Georgia is up to 12 months in jail plus a fine of up to $1,000.
If the sentence is six months or less, the judge may allow it to be served on weekends or during non-working hours.
For felony crimes, the potential prison sentence increases to between one and ten years and the potential fine to $100,000.
Certain theft felonies like some of those detailed above can even exceed the 10-year prison sentence minimum.
Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown Today
The Law Office of Adam D. Brown can defend you in any theft-related case in Gwinnett County.
We will examine the evidence and determine if you were wrongfully charged or if the case can be dismissed before trial. If we do go to court, you can expect us to vigorously defend your rights and freedoms.
Contact us to arrange a free case evaluation.