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Savannah Theft Crimes Attorney
Over a Decade of Experience Defending Clients Throughout Savannah
Theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense. If you are facing theft charges in Savannah, whether at the misdemeanor level or the felony level, it is advisable to consult an experienced theft defense attorney for legal guidance on your next steps. At Tignor Law Firm, we approach all our cases with empathy and compassion; criminal accusations are so often daunting to navigate because they are so impersonal. We understand the anxiety you may be feeling in the face of criminal accusations, so we are here to alleviate your stress and get you out of your legal mess.
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According to Georgia law, theft is the taking of someone’s property, such as by deception, conversion, or extortion. Theft can be punished either as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the property stolen. In some cases, an offense might be charged as a “wobbler,” which can be either a misdemeanor or a felony, to the judge’s discretion.
Misdemeanor theft occurs when a person steals property or services valued at $1,500 or less. Misdemeanor theft is punishable by up to 12 months of jail time and a $1,000 fine. If you have 2 or more prior theft convictions, though, the penalty will rise to the felony wobbler level, which means the judge can choose to impose either the misdemeanor 12-month jail sentence or the felony 1-5-year prison sentence.
Other wobbler theft offenses include theft of property or services valued at $1,500-$5,000, which can be punishable by 1-5 years in prison, and theft of property or services valued at $5,000-$25,000, which can be punishable by 1-10 years in prison. In both such cases, the judge may choose whether to impose misdemeanor penalties or felony penalties.
With over a decade of professional experience, Tignor Law Firm is ready to fight for your defense. Schedule a free consultation online to get started today.
Felony theft is penalized according to the value of the property stolen:
- Theft of property or services valued at $25,000 or more – 2-20 years' incarceration
- Theft of property involving a breach of a fiduciary obligation – 1-15 years' incarceration
- Theft involving a breach of duties by a government or financial institution officer or employee – 1-15 years' incarceration
- Theft by deception of any property worth more than $500 committed against a person aged 65 or older – 5-10 years' incarceration
- Theft of any amount of anhydrous ammonia – 1-10 years' incarceration
- Theft of a firearm, explosive, or destructive device – 1-10 years' incarceration and a 5-year minimum sentence for a second or subsequent conviction
- Theft involving a gravesite or memorial – 1-3 years' incarceration
Note that Georgia has a recidivist sentencing enhancement that requires a repeat offender (2 or more convictions) to serve the maximum sentence allowed for that offense.
Shoplifting is a theft crime punished slightly differently from the above and involves criminal and civil penalties. A crime of shoplifting involves an intent to steal merchandise, such as by concealing it in your bag or swapping out price tags to pay a lower price.
Shoplifting of property worth $500 or less is a misdemeanor. Shoplifting of property worth more than $500 is a felony punishable by 1-10 years in jail. A prosecutor can file felony charges for shoplifting thefts that add up to $500 over 6 months.
The owner of the stolen personal property may also choose to bring a civil action for damages against the offender, as well as sue for criminal penalties. Prior to filing the civil action, they must first send the offender a written demand to pay the following amounts within 30 days:
- compensatory damages for the value of the property and any other losses incurred from the offense; and
- punitive damages worth $300 or triple the value of the loss, whichever is greater.
If you do not pay within 30 days, the property or store owner can seek the above damages, as well as attorneys' fees and costs, in court.
Reach out to Tignor Law Firm if you have been charged with a theft crime. Whether you face serious penalties or minor fines, we can help you build a strong case for mitigated or even dismissed charges. Theft can be a complex criminal charge, depending on the involvement of physical stealing or more abstract conversion.
Contact Tignor Law Firm online to schedule your free initial consultation today. Serving Pooler and Tybee.
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