There are many types of theft crimes in Georgia including:
- Theft by Shoplifting
- Theft by Taking
- Theft by Conversion
- Theft by Receiving
- Theft of Services
- Entering an Auto w/Intent to Commit Theft
- Financial Transaction card Theft
- Armed Robbery
There are also some “theft related crimes” that are not technically “theft” crimes but instead are “property crimes” like Trespass - Burglary - Forgery . Some of the above offenses can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the amount of money or the value of the asset involved. And some crimes, though seemingly very minor like shoplifting, can actually be charged as a felony without regard to value if the person arrested has a history of multiple shoplifting offenses.
Sometimes people don’t understand how they could have been arrested for certain offenses and so below, are just a couple of common scenarios that often raise questions in regard to theft related cases.
Example 1: Theft by Receiving: You are driving along one day in a vehicle that your friend let you borrow. He gave you the keys and there is nothing visibly wrong with the car. All of a sudden, a police officer is following you and stops you for speeding. The officer checks out the registration on the car, finds out that it was stolen, and arrests you for theft by receiving a stolen auto. “But I didn’t steal this car” you proclaim. And the officer arrests you anyway. Can he? Yes, he can arrest you but the more important question is can the State convict you of this charge? An essential element of the offense is that YOU KNEW OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THE PROPERTY WAS STOLEN. So, in this scenario, while enough evidence to arrest, there may not be enough to convict.
Example 2: Theft by Conversion: A neighbor lets you borrow a lawn mower and he said you can use it for a week. A month passes and you haven’t returned the lawn mower. The neighbor has called several times and you have ignored the calls. All of a sudden a police officer knocks on your door with an arrest warrant for theft by conversion. “But my neighbor said I can use it” you proclaim. But you are arrested anyway. Technically you can be arrested for this offense because theft by conversion occurs when you have been given property lawfully but you retain the property unlawfully against the interest of the owner.
Example 3: Armed Robbery: You are hanging out with a couple of your friends and they say “hey Joe, pull into that bank lot. I need to make a deposit.” They go inside and a few minutes later they come out and say “ thanks Joe, we are in a rush, let’s get out of here.” So you continue to drive off and perhaps you’re speeding a bit. All of a sudden there are sirens and 5 police cars chasing you. You pull over and all your friends bolt out of the car. One of them gets tackled and he’s got a gun and a bag of money from the bank. The cop arrests everyone for armed robbery, including you because they claim you are the “getaway driver.” “But I didn’t know they had a gun and I didn’t know they were going to rob the bank” you proclaim. Well, you will get arrested, and you may even get indicted but this evidence may not be enough to convict you of the charges. That’s where a good defense comes in. While the State doesn’t have to prove that you had the gun or that you went into the bank with the others, they do have to prove that you somehow are “a party to the crime.” They typically do this by proving that you assisted in some way... that you aided, abetted, encouraged.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make in the area of theft offenses is to think, “well, I did it” or “well, they caught me red handed” and then go to court, without a lawyer and simply plead guilty to the charged offense. In dealing with theft crimes, like other crimes, charges can often be dismissed or reduced because of a weakness in the State’s case or, because of various qualities about the client. That is why it is important that if you are charged with a theft related crime that you contact a lawyer right away. There are many things a lawyer might be able to do for you, early on, that can help your case tremendously. Being PROACTIVE may help you in court later.
Jodi Dick handles all of the above type cases. She is a pro active lawyer who wants to build a case for you very early on, preferably before the case is indicted or accused. Contact her today!