Georgia Shoplifting Laws

Shoplifting is one of the most common forms of theft, costing U.S. retailers tens of billions of dollars each year. In fact, more than 1.2 million shoplifters (including unscrupulous employees) were stopped by just 25 large U.S. retailers in 2015, according to business consultancy Hayes International. Some of the money and merchandise is recovered, but retailers typically increase their prices in order to make up for the losses.

Georgia Shoplifting Laws at a Glance

Georgia's theft statute specifically identifies the offense of shoplifting, detailing the various ways an individual may attempt to steal from a retailer. For instance, falsifying a price tag or switching the original with a lower-priced tag would be considered shoplifting.

Statutes

Georgia Code ยง 16-8-1, et seq.

Statutory Definition of Theft

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 deprive 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.

Theft by Shoplifting

A person commits the offense of shoplifting when such person alone or in concert with another person, with the intent of appropriating merchandise to his or her own use without paying for the same or to deprive the owner of possession thereof, does any of the following:

  1. Conceals or takes possession of the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
  2. Alters the price tag or other price marking on goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment;
  3. Transfers the goods or merchandise of any store or retail establishment from one container to another;
  4. Interchanges the label or price tag from one item of merchandise with a label or price tag for another item of merchandise; or
  5. Wrongfully causes the amount paid to be less than the merchant's stated price for the merchandise.

Crime Classifications, Sentences, and Penalties

  • Misdemeanor (up to 1 yr. in jail, plus fine): Property value is $500 or less.
  • Felony (1 to 10 yrs. in prison, plus fine): Property value at least $500, or property is stolen from three different stores in the same county within a 3-day period (worth at least $100); theft of anhydrous ammonia; theft involving breach of fiduciary relationship; theft involving gravesite; theft of motor vehicle valued at $100 or more; theft while telemarketing or using computer; theft of destructive device, explosive, or firearm.

Common Defenses to Shoplifting Charges

  • Mistaken identity
  • You already own the property alleged to have been stolen
  • Lack of intent (for example, accidentally walking out the door without paying)

Note: State laws are always subject to change, usually through the enactment of new legislation but also through court decisions and other means. Contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Georgia Shoplifting Laws: Related Resources

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