If you take an object from a retailer without paying for it, that’s shoplifting – and the consequences can be serious.
Per Georgia Code Section 16-8-1, et seq, shoplifting is a misdemeanor if you take something worth less than $500. If you’re convicted of the charge, you can spend up to a year in jail and pay a fine. A felony conviction involves stealing something worth more than $500, which can lead to one to 10 years in prison and a fine. That makes it particularly important to look at all areas of your defense, including mitigation strategies.
Could one of these issues factor into your case?
Not everybody shoplifts for the same reasons. Some people may gain a little sympathy from the court by discussing the underlying causes of their actions. Here are four mitigation factors that might apply to your situation:
- You’re going through financial hardship: You were recently fired or laid off and haven’t had any luck getting new work. You steal items like milk, cereal and baby food because you also have an infant to support.
- You suffer from kleptomania: Kleptomania is a condition related to the insatiable urge to steal. About 0.6 percent of people in the United States struggle with this mental health disorder. Kleptomania usually co-exists with other conditions like stress, eating disorders and childhood trauma.
- You’re a teenager who was coerced into stealing by so-called friends: One of the toughest things about being a teenager is dealing with peer pressure. Sometimes, “cool kids” force their peers into committing illegal acts to prove their worth. If this is your first offense, the court may be lenient.
- You stole an item by mistake because you were tired: Suppose you go shopping right after work and are exhausted and eager to get home. Suddenly, security guards stop you and find an unpaid item in your bag. A court may believe that your actions were merely by mistake, not deserving of punishment.
Getting a shoplifting charge is scary, especially since not everyone commits it with malicious intent. Fortunately, there’s a way you can get assistance with your case. Reaching out for experienced legal guidance is the best way to get started.