Have you been charged with a crime involving theft? Understanding what qualifies and constitutes a theft charge is important, some are misdemeanors but some are felonies. Both types of charges require a thorough and extensive research into the facts and evidence to mount a proper defense. Burglary (O.C.G.A. § 16-7-1) Under the statute a person commits the offense of burglary when he or she without authority and with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein, enters or remains within an occupied, unoccupied or vacant dwelling house of another or other such structure designed for use as the dwelling of another. There are various degrees of burglary each dealing with different aspects of “mandatory minimums” for time in jail. Theft by Shoplifting (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14) The Georgia statutes governing shoplifting detail what qualifies as a shoplifting charge. In short, the statutes state that a person commits this offense when either acting alone or in concert with another person, with the intent of appropriating merchandise to his or her own use without paying for the same or to deprive the owner of possession thereof or of the value thereof; Frequently shoplifting charges come down to a misunderstanding. Take the following example: Standing in the self checkout line, you ring items up but mistakenly miss one item either because it was trapped inside of a shirt or some other object or because it fell into the cart and became hidden. Upon exiting the building you are stopped by whomever is performing “loss prevention” for the store and he either gives you a notice about shoplifting or calls the police and they arrest you for shoplifting. Even on a mistake or misunderstanding, these individuals have charged this person with shoplifting. Theft by Taking (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2) When the Georgia Legislature crafted this statute they put into action that a person commits this offense when he or she unlawfully takes or, being in lawful possession thereof, unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property regardless of the manner in which the property is taken. Theft by Deception (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-3) When a person is charged with theft by deception it means that the person is accused of obtaining property by any deceitful means or artful practice with the intention of depriving the owner of the property. Theft by Conversion (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-4) This type of charge involves a charge wherein someone has lawfully obtained funds or other property of another including, but not limited to, leased or rented personal property, under agreement or other know legal obligation to make a specified application and he knowingly converts the funds or property to his own use in violation of the agreement. Theft of services (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-5) This charge involves being accused with the intent to avoid payment he or she knowingly obtains services accommodations, entertainment, or the use of personal property which is available only for compensation. A frequent example of this charge involves a patron at a bar who is drinking with the bartender. At the end of the night when closing out their tab they notice that the bartender has charged the patron for the bartenders drinks as well as the patrons. The patron refuses to pay and as a result ends up charged with theft of services. Robbery (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-40) A person charged with the offense of robbery is being accused of committing a theft and taking property of anther person by use of force, intimidation or snatching (snatch and grab) Armed Robbery (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-41) This particular charge involves the same portions of robbery (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-40) but further requires that the person charged use an offensive weapon, any replica, article or device having appearance of such weapon. With any accusation, charge or indictment by the state, nothing should be taken lightly or for granted. Theft charges can have a massive impact on anyone’s future especially including their ability to be employed. Being accused of any theft charge does not mean that you have to accept guilt, it means that you need the assistance of a properly trained attorney to mount a proper defense.