Theft crimes are among the more common types of charges that Georgia defendants may face. Whether they concern a simple case of shoplifting or a more serious allegation of burglary, these offenses often arise in complicated circumstances. They frequently involve mistaken accusations or unwarranted arrests. If you have been wrongly accused, it is important that you understand how to properly defend yourself and what to do when faced with police questioning or interrogations. As a former prosecutor, criminal defense attorney Ryan Schwartz understands how prosecutors and police handle these cases and how to resist their efforts. Contact Schwartz Trial Law LLC, to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable Atlanta theft crime lawyer.Vigorously Protecting Your Rights against the Prosecution
Theft crimes include a broad range of offenses that involve the intentional taking of property with the intent to deprive someone else of the property. The severity of the charge generally depends on the type of item stolen and the circumstances under which it was taken. For instance, shoplifting is a relatively minor theft crime involving the taking of property from a store or place of business. Conversely, robbery and burglary are more serious theft crimes because they are often accompanied by violence or threats of violence and may result in physical harm to others. Similarly, embezzlement and identity theft are also crimes that are taken seriously because they involve the taking of large sums of money, often with the intent to avoid detection or to hide the theft from the individual whose property is being taken.
Under Georgia law, the theft of items that are worth less than $500 is considered to be a misdemeanor and is subject to less harsh punishment. People charged with misdemeanor theft crimes may face fines of up to $1,000 and up to 12 months in a Macon or Kennesaw jail. On the other hand, people found to have stolen property worth more than $500 will be charged with a felony. Felony theft convictions may lead to jail time of anywhere between one and 10 years, so retaining a theft crime attorney in the Atlanta area is critical to avert or minimize these penalties.
In Georgia, judges also have the discretion to charge a theft crime as a felony if the theft involved a breach of a fiduciary relationship. This is a special relationship of trust between two individuals, such as between an accountant and a client. If the professional abuses that relationship, such as by stealing from a client through manipulating tax returns, Georgia law permits this to be charged as a felony, even if the amount of money taken was modest.
A common way to defend against a theft crime is to show that the defendant did not intend to take the property of someone else. In many situations, this involves an argument that the accused person thought that the property belonged to them. For instance, the defendant may attempt to establish that they had an agreement with the owner of the property to borrow it or to take it in exchange for another service. If there was never an intent to violate the rights of another property owner, a crime cannot be committed. Other potential defenses might be intoxication or duress, two other circumstances in which a defendant may be able to show that although they took someone else’s property, they did not have the specific intent to do so.Consult a Theft Crime Lawyer in Atlanta
If you have been wrongly accused of a theft offense, you may feel inclined to defend against it on your own by showing that you did not mean to do it or that you thought that the property was yours. While these explanations may serve as the basis for a legitimate defense theory, they are often complicated to prove at trial and may require testimony from witnesses, copies of written documents, and careful questioning of all those involved. A skilled Atlanta theft crime attorney like Ryan Schwartz can examine all of the relevant evidence and help you convincingly articulate your version of events. At Schwartz Trial Law LLC, we also can represent people who need a drug offenses lawyer, a domestic violence attorney, or a legal professional to fight a traffic violation or DUI case. We assist defendants across the Atlanta metro area, as well as in Woodstock, Decatur, Lawrenceville, Gainesville, Alpharetta, and other Georgia communities. Contact us at 678.460.7568 or through our online form to set up a free consultation.