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Shoplifting is illegal in Georgia. Shoplifting can be charged when the defendant performed actions with the intent of taking merchandise without paying or of depriving the owner of possession of merchandise or its value. Shoplifting includes altering price tags, switching labels, transferring merchandise between containers, or otherwise causing less to be paid for a particular item. It can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on how much was stolen and whether there were any aggravating circumstances.

In a recent appellate decision, a Georgia jury found the defendant guilty of shoplifting. The defendant had entered guilty pleas in four earlier shoplifting cases, and the government presented these so that it could ask for recidivist punishment under OCGA § 16-8-14 (b)(1)(C). Under this code section, when somebody is convicted of a fourth or subsequent shoplifting offense, and the earlier convictions were either misdemeanors or felonies or a combination, the defendant commits a felony and must be punished with imprisonment for 1-10 years without suspending or deferring the first year of the sentence. The defendant is considered a recidivist or repeat offender and sentenced accordingly. In this case, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a recidivist.

The defendant appealed. He argued that he shouldn’t have been sentenced as a recidivist because the government didn’t establish he had waived his right to counsel in two of the prior shoplifting convictions.
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In Prigmore v. State, the defendant was arrested for a hit and run under OCGA § 40-6-270. He was also arrested for vehicular homicide, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of drugs.

Under the hit and run statute, a driver of any vehicle that is involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to anybody is required to stop the car at the scene. If the driver can’t stop right at the scene, he or she must stop as close to the scene as possible and go back to the scene to give help to the victims. For a first conviction, the defendant must be fined between $300 and $1,000, which may not be subject to suspension, stay, or probation, or imprisoned for up to 12 months.

In Prigmore v. State, the defendant was driving along Lawrenceville Highway, crossed a lane of traffic, left the road, drove along the sidewalk, and struck and killed a woman and her six-year-old daughter. After hitting the pedestrians, the defendant came back to the roadway and kept driving for about a quarter of a mile, then parked in a business drive-thru. Witnesses told the police where he was.
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Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Fulton, Gwinnett, DeKalb and Cobb County Hit-and-run lawyer

Nearly every week I’ll get a call from somebody who was involved in a hit-and-run situation. You may have left the scene for many different reasons. Within the next few days following a hit-and-run, it’s not uncommon to receive a call from a hit-and-run detective or police officer from the city or county in which the incident occurred. The detective wants to talk to you about what happened to get your version of the events. The detective or police officer will ask you to come to the station to discuss what happened. Don’t discuss the facts of the case on the phone. You have an absolute right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. Immediately call an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. I’m not suggesting you don’t cooperate. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who handles these types of cases on a regular basis in the jurisdictions that your case occurred.

There are defenses to hit-and-run cases, and in many situations, I can get your charges reduced or dismissed depending on the facts of your case. In more serious cases, the detectives or the police officers can take out a warrant for your arrest for violating O.C.G.A. 40-6-270.

There is a right way and a wrong way to prepare yourself for court when you answer to the charges. A conviction for a hit-and-run can result in up to a $1,000.00 fine and/or 12 months in jail and the suspension of your Georgia driver’s license or your privilege to drive in the state of Georgia. Different laws apply to individuals under the age of 21. A conviction can lead to an increase of your auto insurance premiums and have serious repercussions on your job depending on what you do for a living.
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The Georgia Constitution protects its citizens against multiple punishment for the same offense. This is known as double jeopardy, yet it does not forbid additional punishment for separate offenses which have been deemed to warrant separate sanctions.

There is protection against multiple or successive prosecutions for crimes arising from the same conduct. This mandates that different crimes arising from the same conduct and known to the prosecution at the time must be tried in a single prosecution. If several crimes arising from the same conduct are known to the proper prosecuting officer at the time of commencing the prosecution and are within the jurisdiction of a single court, they must be prosecuted in a single prosecution.

A person is not placed in jeopardy by having a preliminary, commitment or probable cause hearing even if the charges against him were dismissed at that time.

When multiple crimes occur within more than one county and one crime which is included within one of the multiple crimes as committed was done in only one of the counties, the defendant cannot be tried in more than one county for the same included offense.

In Georgia, jeopardy generally attaches when the jury is impaneled and sworn, or in a non-jury case, after the first witness has been sworn and the court begins to hear testimony. Entering a nolo contendere plea constitutes jeopardy even if entered before a jury was impaneled and sworn.

If the defendant was indicted for two charges arising out of the same transaction and the defendant pled guilty to one of the charges, the state can still attempt to try the defendant for the other charge and double jeopardy is not a valid defense.
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What happens when you fail to appear for court in Georgia? In most cases, the judge will issue an arrest warrant also called a bench warrant. If this happens, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Understand all your options and take immediate action.

If your case was in city court, traffic court, recorders court or any other court that prosecutes driving offenses, your Georgia Driver’s License may be suspended. If you are pulled over by the police after you missed a court date, you could be arrested for driving on a suspended license. This creates a separate offense from the one you failed to appear for. The sooner you addresses your failure to appear, the better your chance to resolve your situation favorably. Bench warrants and license suspensions will not go away.

The most common failure to appear scenario is when the arrestee moved from the address they gave to the jail at the time of arrest and failed to notify the court, bonding company and prosecuting agency of their new address. Had the arrestee hired a criminal defense lawyer immediately after their arrest, their attorney would have “entered an appearance” with the court. The court would notify the attorney of the court date who would in-turn have notified you and prepared you for your court date.

After a warrant has been issued, if you are questioned by or pulled over by police in a jurisdiction other than the jurisdiction that issued the warrant, you will most likely be arrested and jailed until the jurisdiction that issued the warrant picks you up and returns you to face the judge or court that issued the warrant. That jurisdiction may or may not pick you up. You could remain in jail for an extended period of time before knowing if you will be picked up or released.

Why should you immediately consult with a criminal defense lawyer if this happens to you?

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can prevent an arrest warrant from being issued for failure to appear. They can also file documents requesting that a warrant that was issued be withdrawn before an arrest or license suspension occurrs. If you are unable to appear in court, attorneys can appear for you and request a court date reset thereby avoiding a warrant or suspension. You have to hire your crimial defense lawyer soon after arrest to maximize your options.
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There is a general misconception that in order to be charged with the offense of theft by shoplifting in the State of Georgia that you have to leave the store in order to be charged with shoplifting. The crime of shoplifting does not require one to exit the store. There are five different scenarios which are considered shoplifting in Georgia. These include concealing or taking possession of merchandise, altering the price tag, transferring merchandise from one container to another, changing the price tag or label of one item with another item, and wrongfully causing the amount paid to be less than the stores price listed for the item. O.C.G.A. § 16-8-14
If the value of the shoplifted items is $499.99 or less, the law treats this as a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a $1,000.00 fine and 12 months in jail. If the value is $500.00 or more, it is considered a felony punishable by 1-10 years. A third offense carries mandatory jail time. A fourth offense is considered a felony with a mandatory one year in prison even if the offense was of a misdemeanor level. The Georgia Court of Appeals has held that a ten-year sentence for a fourth offense shoplifting was not excessive.

There are many ways to defend shoplifting cases. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I can maximize your options when facing shoplifting charges. I have represented many individuals who were facing fourth offense shoplifting charges who avoided being prosecuted for felony charges thereby avoiding the mandatory one year in prison. In many case I have been able to negotiate a dismissal of charges and expungement or restriction of their arrest record. This will make a huge difference when applying for employment.
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What exactly is the right to remain silent? The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution addresses this important right.

“No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

What does it mean that no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself?

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Charges of disorderly conduct were recently dropped by a judge in Cobb County Georgia in a case involving a woman who said “F— the police” and “police suck” as she rode her bicycle past two officers questioning a burglary suspect. The officers abandoned the burglary investigation and arrested the woman. She was charged under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-39(a)(4) which bars “without provocation” the use of “obscene and vulgar language in the presence of a person under the age of 14 years which threatens an immediate breach of the peace.”

The judge found that even though the police testified a child was present, the woman’s words were not fighting words. “the police cannot arrest someone for disrespecting them by the use of a curse word.”

Even though cursing at the police in this specific scenario was not against the law, I would NEVER recommend that you do such a thing. Even though the woman’s charges were dropped, she spent 23 hours in jail with 6 in solitary confinement. She also had to hire a lawyer and stress out for a year until her case was heard.
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