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Shoplifting carries serious penalties

Retail workers prepare for more customer traffic during the holiday shopping season. This shopping boon unofficially extends for some weeks beyond Christmas as people return and exchange gifts and use the gift cards they received as presents. Along with handling the rush of customers, retail employees and business owners are on the lookout for those they suspect of shoplifting. Unfortunately, the shoplifting laws in Georgia may jeopardize the future of anyone accused of this type of theft.

It is not true that a person must walk out of a store with an unpaid item for the business owner or an employee to accuse that person of shoplifting. The law allows for criminal charges if the accused in any way conceals an item, alters the price on the tag, or changes the price tag or packaging for those of a cheaper item. The accused must also have the intention of depriving the store of that property.

The prosecution must prove the intention, however. It is possible that the concealment occurred unintentionally, such as one might do to prevent a companion from seeing a gift he or she was buying. Nevertheless, if the court convicts someone of shoplifting, even for an item that is less than $500, the accused may face up to a year in jail, fines and a lifelong criminal record. If the item in question has a value greater than $500, the charge may become a felony. The consequences may include up to 10 years in prison.

Shoplifting charges are not something to take lightly. Retail establishments lose millions of dollars each year through this kind of theft, and they are likely to prosecute to the fullest extent. This is why someone who is facing charges in Georgia would be wise to have legal assistance as soon as possible after an arrest.