What are Shoplifting Laws in Georgia?Shoplifting is the act of theft by the appropriation of merchandise from a store or a retail shop, for one's own use, without paying for the same. In the State of Georgia, as per Georgia Code (GA Code § 16-8-14 (2018)), the commission of such theft by shoplifting is a punishable offense.
Causing Loss to the Owner is also Shoplifting
Punishment on the Basis of Value of Stolen Goods
For shoplifting merchandise worth $500 or less, the punishment, on conviction, for a first time offender, is imprisonment for a period less than 12 months and the offense is treated as a misdemeanor. However, if the value of the shoplifted merchandise is more than $500; or if the aggregate value of the merchandise stolen from 3 different stores within the same County, within a period of 7 days, is more than $500; or if the aggregate value of the property stolen within 180 days is more than $500, then such an offense would be treated as a felony and the convicted person would be imprisoned for a period of more than one year, but, less than 10 years. This provision seeks to grant a severe punishment to persons who commit offenses that cause heavy losses to the shop owner(s).
Punishment for Repeat Offenders
The Georgia Code also envisages imposing severe punishment on persons who are convicted for the second, third, fourth or subsequent offense of shoplifting of merchandise of value $500 or less. For a person convicted of the offense of shoplifting for a second time, the Court would impose a fine of a minimum of $500, in addition to the punishment of imprisonment to be imposed on the offender. If a person is convicted for the third time, then, additional punishment with imprisonment for 30 days or confinement in a correctional facility for 120 days or house arrest for 120 days.
In addition to the above-mentioned punishment, a person convicted for the third time for the same offense of shoplifting might be required to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment. The statute has made a provision for psychological evaluation and treatment for repeat offenders, so that persons suffering from compulsive behaviors such as kleptomania could be treated, instead of them being subjected to punishments repeatedly for a psychological ailment.
When the number of convictions for the commission of the offense of shoplifting goes beyond the third time, then such offense would be treated as a felony and such offender would be punished with imprisonment for a minimum period of one year, but, less than 10 years.
From the above provision, it can be said that the State of Georgia takes the crime of shoplifting very seriously, by prescribing severe punishments for repeat offenders and persons who commit an offense of higher value. In addition to punishing repeat offenders, the State also seeks to rehabilitate them by putting them through psychological treatment. This provision for shoplifting under the Georgia Code, by differentiating the crimes based on value and repetition seeks to curb the commission of future offenses.
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