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What are the Penalties for Theft in GA?

There are many crimes that a person can be accused of, and one common one is theft. Theft is defined as the act of taking the property of another person without that person's permission or consent with the intent to deprive the owner. The word “intent” is important here, as that is what prosecutors need to prove in theft cases. If a person accidentally takes someone else’s property, then they likely will not be charged with theft.

Georgia Code § 16-8-12 defines the various forms of theft as well as their penalties. Theft can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the value of the property stolen. Misdemeanor theft is when the value of the property stolen is determined to be $1,500 or less. Theft becomes a felony when the value of the property stolen is determined to be greater than $1,500.

In some cases, though, a greater amount of stolen property can still be charged as a misdemeanor, based on the judge’s discretion. When the theft involves property valued between $1,500 and $5,000, it is considered a felony punishable by a jail term of up to five years. However, the judge does have the discretion to charge it as a misdemeanor. The same applies to property valued between $5,000 and $25,000. It can be a felony charge punishable by one to 10 years in prison, or it can be a misdemeanor.

If the property was valued at $25,000 or more, though, it will certainly be treated as a felony. A person can face up to 20 years in prison.

In Georgia, there are other situations in which theft can be punished as a felony. Some examples include:

  • Theft of anhydrous ammonia. Any amount stolen can result in punishment, including one to 10 years in prison as well as a fine.
  • Theft of government or bank property by an employee. A person can face one to 15 years in prison as well as a fine.
  • Theft involving a gravesite or cemetery decoration. A person convicted of this crime can face one to three years in prison.

Prison sentences and fines are not the only consequences of committing theft. The person you stole from could bring a civil action against you for damages. They could sue you and recover monetary damages such as:

  • Compensatory damages. These include the value of the property and any other losses you incurred due to the theft.
  • Liquidated exemplary damages amounting to $150 or twice the value of the loss. However, the total amount of the claim needs to be under $5,000.
  • The legal costs involved in bringing a lawsuit against you, such as legal and court costs.

Contact Our Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

Theft charges can vary widely. You could face felony charges, depending on what was stolen.

The Georgia criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can present evidence that points to your innocence. We will help defend your case and get you a favorable outcome. To schedule a consultation, fill out the online form or call (404) 561-0202.