Property crimes in Georgia are complicated to most Georgians - especially theft laws. Yesterday, I explained theft by taking in Georgia, and today, I'd like to focus on three other common types of theft in Georgia.
Theft charges can be confusing, and it's important to have a Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer who understands exactly what you are being charged with and how to successfully defend your case.
Theft by Conversion
Georgia law defines theft by conversion in Georgia as when a person “having lawfully obtained funds or other property of another including, but not limited to, leased or rented personal property, under an agreement or other known legal obligation to make a specified application of such funds or a specific disposition of such property, he knowingly converts the funds or property to his own use in violation of the agreement or legal obligation” (O.C.G.A. §16-8-4).
The state of Georgia will have to prove that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of having the intent to convert the money or property for his or her own use. The jury can consider the accused person's conduct, words, demeanor, motive, and any other circumstances. A conviction for theft by conversion can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor theft by conversion is if the property taken is less than $500. The punishment can include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 12 months in jail. A felony theft by conversion is if the property taken is more than $500. The punishment for a felony charge includes anywhere from one to ten years in prison.
Theft by Extortion
Georgia law defines six different ways that a person can commit theft by extortion in Georgia: “when a person unlawfully obtains property of or from another person by threatening to:
1. Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other criminal offense
2. Accuse anyone of a criminal offense
3. Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to impair his credit or business reputation
4. Take or withhold action as a public official or cause an official to take or withhold action
5. Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act
6. Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense” (O.C.G.A. §16-8-16).
The state of Georgia will have to prove that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. A conviction for theft by extortion includes a punishment of one to ten years in prison.
Theft by Deception
Georgia law defines theft by deception in Georgia as when a person “obtains property by any deceitful means or artful practice with the intention of depriving the owner of the property” (O.C.G.A. §16-8-3). There are few different ways that someone can deceive another intentionally:
- Creates or confirms another's impression of an existing fact or past event which is false and which the accused knows or believes to be false;
- Fails to correct a false impression of an existing or past even which he has previously created or confirmed;
- Prevents another from acquiring information pertinent to the disposition of the property involved;
- Sells or otherwise transfer or encumbers property intentionally failing to disclose a substantial valid known lien, adverse claim, or another legal impediment to the enjoyment of the property, whether such impediment is or is not a matter of official record; or
- Promises performance of services, which he does not intend to perform or knows, will not be performed.
The state of Georgia will have to prove that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of making false representations and knowing they were false with the intent to deceive and defraud the victim. A conviction for theft by deception can be considered either a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor theft by deception is if the property taken is less than $500. The punishment can include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 12 months in jail. A felony theft by deception is if the property taken is more than $500. The punishment for a felony charge includes anywhere from one to ten years in prison.
There are other consequences of committing theft crimes. The victim of the theft crime has the option to bring a civil action against the accused person for damages. They could sue to recover monetary damages. The monetary damages could include compensatory damages including the value of the property and any other loss sustained as a result of the theft, liquidated exemplary damages amounting to $150 or twice the value of the loss (as long as the total amount is less than $5,000), costs of bringing the suit for restitution damages for any damages or harm that came to the victim.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a theft crime in Georgia, contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney today.