Larceny is simply the legal term for theft. However, it is different than theft by conversion, a.k.a. embezzlement, or theft by extortion. Rather, in the state of Georgia, larceny usually refers to theft by taking. That is, larceny physically is physically and unlawfully taking property that belongs to another person. Georgia Code 16-8-2 lays out theft by taking quite simply a succinctly. A person commits this crime if they illegally take or are in possession of someone else’s property with the intention to deprive the rightful owner of said property.
Further, this code covers every kind of physical theft. That includes robbery and burglary. It also covers all sorts of petty theft and shoplifting. Depending on the situation, larceny could be tried as a misdemeanor or a felony. With so much at stake, it is crucial you hire an experienced larceny attorney to represent you in Atlanta. Without one, you could be looking at up to 10 years in prison.
When Is Larceny a Felony?
How you will be tried for larceny depends greatly on the circumstances of the theft, according to Georgia Code 16-8-12. Unless certain requirements are met, larceny is generally punished as a misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $1,000 and jail time of no more than 12 months. However, if the crime is more serious, the consequences also become more severe. These circumstances include:
- If the value of the property stolen exceeds $500, it may be tried as a felony or misdemeanor at the discretion of the judge. A felony charge is punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison.
- If anhydrous ammonia, a highly dangerous substance, is stolen, the prison time is 1 to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
- If the perpetrator breached their fiduciary duty — that is, they were in charge of other people’s money — the penalty is 1 to 15 years and/or a $100,000 fine.
- If the theft involved a gravesite or memorial site, the penalty is 1 to 3 years in prison. If said site is that of a member of the military, the penalty is 1 to 3 years in prison if the value of what was stolen is under $300. If it is greater than $300, the penalty is 3 to 5 years.
- A theft involving at least $100 in car parts, including a vehicle itself, it may be tried as a misdemeanor at the discretion of the judge. A felony charge carries a penalty of 1 to 10 years in prison. This standard also applies to theft while telemarketing.
- Theft of explosives, firearms or destructive devices carries a penalty of 1 to 10 years.
- Theft of a commercial vehicle engaged in its duties is punishable by 3 to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of $5,000 to $50,000. If the driver of said vehicle is the perpetrator, their license may also be revoked.
- Stealing ferrous materials — that is, metals with iron — worth more than $500 (including any damage done to procure the metal) is punishable by 1 to 5 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000.
- Theft of crops is punishable by a fine of no more than $500.
Shoplifting in Atlanta
One of the most common forms of theft in Atlanta is shoplifting. In general, shoplifting includes stealing merchandise from a store. However, there are a few criteria that must be met for this charge to apply, according to Georgia Code 16-8-14. These include:
- Concealing or taking merchandise from any retail establishment
- Altering or swapping the price tag
- Swapping the container/packaging of any merchandise
- Otherwise causes the amount paid for the merchandise to be less than the retailer’s stated price unlawfully
The first offense for shoplifting is a misdemeanor, if the value of the stolen merchandise is less than $300. If the value is greater than $300, it is a felony, punishable by 1 to 10 years in prison. In addition, if a perpetrator shoplifts from three different establishments in the same county within a week, and the value of each theft was more than $100, it is also considered a felony with the same consequence.
For a second offense, you may still be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, but a fine of no less than $250 will be enforced. The third offense, felony or not, is a bit more complicated. In addition to any fines, you will also be confined, for 120 days, to:
- A probation detention center;
- A diversion center;
- A “special alternative incarceration-probation boot camp”; OR
- A community correctional facility run by the Department of Corrections.
Alternatively, you may be placed on house arrest for 120 days. In either situation, you may also be required to undergo psychological evaluation and treatment, which you must pay for.
On the fourth and any subsequent offense, it is automatically a felony, punishable by one to 10 years in prison, of which the first year must be served to term.
Speak with an Experienced Larceny Attorney in Atlanta Today
Obviously, none of these consequences are ideal. A skilled larceny attorney may be able to work with the state to have your charges reduced or possibly dropped altogether, depending on the circumstances and the evidence. Don’t face the law alone. If you’ve been charged with larceny in Atlanta, call Hawkins Spizman Fortas today at 770-651-0166 for a free case evaluation and consultation. We will work tirelessly to craft a unique defense for your case. Time is of the essence in cases of theft. Call now.