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It is one of the most complicated charges in the Georgia criminal justice system. From a definition that requires some interpretation to a wide variety of possible penalties, shoplifting represents a serious charge that requires the expertise of a Georgia licensed criminal defense attorney. At Garland Law Group, we have helped numerous clients fight shoplifting charges for alcohol, groceries, computers, and jewelry, just to name a few products.

Shoplifting is a crime that if repeated, can trigger much harsher legal penalties that include more time in jail and much higher punitive fines. Most businesses that have to deal with shoplifting in Georgia do not cut perpetrators of the crime any legal slack. If you have a shoplifting charge, do not expect the merchant to relent and request the charge be dropped by law enforcement.

If the State of Georgia has charged you or a loved one with shoplifting, you should immediately get in touch with one of our shoplifting attorneys to determine the best course of legal action. We offer a free initial consultation to get the legal ball rolling.


How Georgia Law Defines Shoplifting

Georgia statute O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14 declares shoplifting to be the “performing certain actions with the intent of taking merchandise without paying for it or depriving the owner of possession of the merchandise or its value.” As the most common way to define shoplifting, taking something and walking out of a store without paying for it is a crime that carries a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on the value of the goods that were shoplifted.

Georgia law lists five examples of shoplifting:

  • Altering price tags

  • Concealing or taking possession of merchandise

  • Switching price tags

  • Wrongfully causing the amount owed to be less than it should be

  • Moving merchandise to a container that presents a lower price


Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

To prove you are guilty of shoplifting, the State of Georgia must prove you had intent when you committed the criminal offense. The proof of intent must convince the jury you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. As the most difficult burden of proof, beyond a reasonable doubt means just the slightest hesitation to issue a guilty vote from only one juror can bring back a not guilty verdict. The shoplifting defense lawyers at Garland Law Group look for the smallest holes in the prosecution’s case to plant the all-important seeds of reasonable doubt.

Possible Shoplifting Penalties for Shoplifting in Georgia

Under Georgia statute O.C.G.A. §16-8-14, shoplifting is considered either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the value of the goods that were shoplifted. Misdemeanor shoplifting cases are for cases in which the total value of stolen goods is less than $500. Jail time up to one year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000 accompany misdemeanor shoplifting convictions. A second misdemeanor conviction for shoplifting in Georgia can lead to both a stiffer financial penalty and a longer prison sentence. A felony conviction for shoplifting can result in jail time spanning between one and 10 years.

How Garland Law Group Defends Shoplifting Cases in Georgia

The experienced shoplifting attorneys at Garland Law Group vigorously defend clients using one of several proven criminal defense strategies. Our primary goal is to prove your innocence by establishing a verified alibi and/or presenting physical evidence that will plant the critical seed of reasonable doubt. Proving your innocence eliminates the need to use one or more of the following shoplifting strategies.

  • There was no intent

  • Merchandise was from a display

  • You wanted to pay for the merchandise

  • You were intoxicated


If you were arrested for shoplifting while you were in the store, proving you planned to pay for the merchandise is a compelling defense strategy. The owner or manager of the store cannot claim you left the store with the merchandise because of the presence of security cameras. Our team of shoplifting attorneys always requests the footage from security cameras to prove our clients never left a store with unpaid for merchandise.

Intoxication is considered a shoplifting defense of last resort, as the claim of intoxication usually requires proof in the form of a law enforcement administered sobriety test. However, we can plant the seed of reasonable doubt by making an intoxication defense. Once again, presenting video footage of your behavior can reveal evidence of intoxication.

Under Georgia case law (Hayes v. State 1983), removing merchandise from a display or a mannequin is not considered shoplifting even if you left the store with the merchandise.

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