The Gwinnett District Attorney’s Office and Solicitor General’s Office prosecute shoplifting cases very aggressively as do the stores in pursuing charges against those accused of shoplifting. In fact, often people are surprised by how aggressively these cases are pursued even in cases where a person accidently walked out with an item.
Due to this severity in the way these cases are treated, it is absolutely critical to hire a Gwinnett County Shoplifting attorney as soon as possible if accused. An experienced theft lawyer can work to compile evidence on the behalf of the individual accused and guide them through the entirety of the legal process. To learn more or begin building a defense for your case, call and schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer today.
Shoplifting is an unlawful taking of an item from a store of merchandise that requires the intent to take the item. The element of intent is almost always ignored during the arrest process, however, it is an integral element of the offense that a Gwinnett County shoplifting attorney will likely use in building a defense.
There have been cases where individuals were arrested for shoplifting after purchasing a whole cart full of groceries or other items, having forgotten one or two items still in the bottom of the cart. These cases are almost always accidental, with no intent to shoplift, however, the intent was assumed by the store or law enforcement.
Shoplifting not only requires an intent to steal something from a store but also an effort to do so. The law requires that there be some sort of act to further the theft. For example, if a person tries to walk out the store with an item, hide it in another piece of merchandise, or put it in their pocket, that could be considered making an effort to further the theft.
It is not enough that a person simply picks up an item and walks around the store with it, but if they pick up an item, walk around the store, and then put it in their pocket, prosecution might say that there was an intent to steal even though the individual never walked out of the store.
If a person is convicted of shoplifting for a misdemeanor in Gwinnett County, they face up to 12 months in jail, a $1,000.00 fine, community service, probation, counseling, and would have a conviction on their record.
If a person is convicted of a felony shoplifting charge, they can be punished with up to 10 years in prison for felony shoplifting.
Felony shoplifting is any theft from a store where the value exceeds $500. Also, a person can be charged with felony shoplifting if they have had three prior misdemeanor shopliftings. A fourth misdemeanor shoplifting would automatically become a felony.
If a person is charged with a misdemeanor theft by shoplifting in Gwinnett County, they may be eligible for the pretrial diversion program. The pretrial diversion program is offered by the Solicitors General’s Office and is allowed for people charged with first misdemeanor thefts where there were no aggravating circumstances like they did not try to fight the police officers, use racial slurs, or something of that nature.
The Solicitor General’s Office will often allow that case to go to pretrial diversion, which results in a restriction of the arrest record and the dismissal of the charges upon successful completion of the program. Beyond that, if the case is not eligible because it is a felony or it is a fourth offense, then we often will look to see whether or not we can offer restitution to the store owners if they actually lost merchandise and present that information in mitigation to the District Attorney’s Office as we seek a reduction to a lesser charge.
Having a Gwinnett County shoplifting attorney by your side when you go to court can help in several ways. One of the key ways is that an attorney who is experienced in criminal court proceedings will know what types of defenses to raise, what types of things to say, how to demand evidence, how to seek to have evidence suppressed, and how to seek those confessions suppressed. So it is very important that not only do you have an attorney with you in court, but that you have an attorney who is experienced with shoplifting in Gwinnett County. To discuss your case and begin building a defense, call today.