Depending on the type of theft charge you are facing, the penalties could range anywhere from a small fine to a significant prison sentence. Beyond that, however, a conviction would also carry a permanent mark on a person’s criminal record that could have long term consequences involving everything from employment to education. As a result, it is important to fight the charge with the help of an Atlanta theft lawyer no matter how serious it may seem at the time. Read on to learn more about the potential penalties involved with a theft conviction before calling and scheduling a consultation to discuss your case.
If the theft is of less than $1,500 in goods stolen or in the case of shoplifting less than $500 in goods taken, then misdemeanor level theft is most likely to be charged. In these cases there is no considerable amount of jail time for a first offense, and an experienced attorney will often be able to negotiate a resolution for a pre-trial diversion program.
A felony on the other hand is punishable from one year in jail to up to twenty years in jail based on appropriate instances. Additionally, some crimes such as burglary or home invasion can carry a fine of up to $100,000 if convicted. Overall, if the property taken as part of the theft is greater than $25,000 in value, a person can expect a term in prison for no less than two years and no more than twenty years. If the property was over $5,000 but less than $25,000, a person is looking at jail for not less than one year but no more than two years. If the property that someone is convicted of stealing has a value of more than $1,500 but less than $5,000 they face one to five years in prison.
These decisions are ultimately up to the trial judge who sentences defendant’s who are found guilty. These terms are almost always subject to negotiations between the defense attorney and the prosecutors as far as plea negotiations. If someone is convicted at trial, those are the ranges at that level of felony theft. If a person had prior convictions for theft and a range of theft cases, a third conviction of a misdemeanor level theft triggers a felony conviction and the person is punished for a range of about one to five years.
The ranges are so broad among the different kinds of theft: misdemeanor theft, felony theft, armed robbery versus theft by deception, shoplifting versus home invasion. The charge a person is likely to be convicted of must first be identified to figure out the type of punishment or harshest penalty that a person might face. Home invasion and armed robbery may carry up to life imprisonment for repeat offenders. Other serious felonies such as burglary or robbery may carry up to twenty years.
A person’s criminal history affects many stages of a case. It is a challenge to attempt to sway a prosecutor who is dealing with the crime when the person has a previous criminal history, especially a repeat criminal history of a crime like theft. It makes our job giving our clients good options to consider before trial and in lieu of trial more difficult when there is criminal history.
In terms of sentencing, if a person is convicted after trial or when determining an acceptable plea bargain, judges take criminal history into account.
Finally, in trial under Georgia’s new Evidence Code, prior criminal history may even affect what a jury might hear about a person in evidence at a trial.
As a result, it is imperative that a person hires an attorney who has experience to minimize the damage that a person’s past might have on the challenges they are facing today. It is the lawyer’s job to challenge the prosecution and zealously defend the client to exclude or minimize the impact that criminal history may have on the task at hand.