Over 100 car break-ins were reported at a Metro Atlanta Mall this past weekend. The windows of dozens of cars were smashed and belongings and valuables were stolen. Police have reported that there were no surveillance footage of the parking lots available. Victims of the car break-ins included both employees and patrons of the mall.
According to reports, police chased three people into a nearby wooded area that they believed were connected to the break-ins. The three suspects got away and are still wanted by police.
As an Atlanta Criminal Attorney, I will focus on the criminal offense of entering auto in our state which will be one of many charges faced by those who committed the break-ins.
Entering Auto in Georgia
The Georgia Code defines entering auto in Georgia as:
If any person shall enter any automobile or other motor vehicle with the intent to commit a theft or a felony, he shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment for no less than one nor more than five years, or in the discretion of the trial judge, as for a misdemeanor. O.C.G.A. §16-8-18.
The offense of entering auto is very similar to the offense of burglary in Georgia. Both offenses require the breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony or theft therein. Georgia classifies both of these offenses very harshly with the public policy of discouraging people from committing these types of acts.
As you can see from the statute above, entering auto is classified as a felony the majority of the time and carries a penalty of up to 5 years in prison. However, the judge in each case has the discretion to treat the offense as a misdemeanor which carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $1,000.
Entering auto is also a crime that can result in a civil case that is separate from the criminal prosecution. The civil case can include an order by the court to pay restitution (financial compensation to the victim or the victim's family).
Of course, not everyone who is accused of committing the criminal offense of entering auto is guilty of committing that offense. There are more wrongful accusations than we would like to admit. In the case of a wrongful accusation, an Atlanta Criminal Lawyer can help by investigating the details of your case and determining which of the Georgia Criminal Defenses applies.
If you or a loved one has been arrested in Georgia, contact our offices today.