When children are young, they generally learn that stealing is taking something that does not belong to them. The laws are not as straightforward, though, and in fact, every state has its own laws that define what theft is, and how serious the penalties are.
Georgia’s theft laws identify several factors that a prosecutor would have to prove before a defendant could receive a conviction, and what may lead to more serious penalties.
FindLaw answers these questions about theft under Georgia’s laws.
What is theft?
Intending to deprive the owner of property by taking or keeping what belongs to that person is theft. It does not matter whether the individual who intends to commit theft keeps the property himself or herself, or if he or she gets rid of the property in some way. The key is that he or she intends that the owner will not likely to be able to recover it.
What is theft by deception?
The key to deception is that the individual acquires the property by intentionally causing the owner to believe something false by doing one of the following:
- Creating or confirming a lie
- Failing to correct a misconception
- Preventing someone from learning who the property belongs to or where it came from
- Selling or giving away the property without revealing a lien or other issue attached to it
- Promising services that will not be provided
What is shoplifting?
Simply put, shoplifting is taking merchandise from a retail establishment without intending to pay for it. The definition goes further, to include the following:
- Concealing the merchandise
- Altering or swapping price tags
- Moving the merchandise from one container into another
- Intentionally paying less than the stated price
Is theft a misdemeanor or felony?
Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances, the value of the property stolen, and the number of previous convictions. Theft of certain items — such as a gravestone or other memorial in a cemetery, a destructive device such as a firearm, or an unharvested commercial agricultural crop — is a felony.
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