Theft comes in many shapes and sizes according to Georgia law. The Georgia Code defines the following different types of thefts:
- Theft by Conversion in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-4)
- Theft by Conversion for Real Property Improvements in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-18-5)
- Theft by Extortion in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-16)
- Theft by Deception in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-3)
- Theft by Receiving in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-7)
- Theft by Taking in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-2)
- Theft of Lost or Mislaid Property in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-6)
- Theft of Services in Georgia (O.C.G.A. §16-8-16)
Last month, a couple was allegedly caught on camera stealing a Terrier puppy from the Fulton County Animal Services Shelter. Leah Zinn and Daniel Whitehead snuck the puppy into Zinn's purse and quickly left the building. The puppy had already been adopted, so the shelter was alerted when the family came to pick her up. Warrants went out for both Zinn and Whitehead not much later. Zinn turned herself in for a misdemeanor charge of theft by taking on March 9th.
Theft by taking is also known as larceny. This type of theft refers to the taking of anything valuable with the intent to deprive the owner. It's the most common type of theft in Georgia. The Georgia Code defines theft by taking in Georgia as “when a person unlawfully takes or being in lawful possession thief unlawfully appropriates any property of another with the intention of depriving him of the property, regardless of the manner in which property is taken or appropriated” (O.C.G.A. §16-8-2).
The property of another is any property that belongs to a person other than the accused person. Therefore, you can't be guilty of theft by taking if you have some type of ownership in the property. The intention of depriving someone of their property can be interpreted in two different ways by Georgia courts. First as to withhold property temporarily or permanently. Second as to dispose of the property to make it unlikely of it's recovery by the owner.
Theft by taking can be considered either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Theft by taking will be considered a misdemeanor when the property is worth less than $500. The punishment can include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 12 months in jail.
Theft by taking charge will be considered a felony no matter what in certain scenarios - regardless of the value of the property. These circumstances include: theft of government/bank property by an employee, theft of a gravesite/cemetery decoration, and theft of a motor vehicle/part of a motor vehicle worth more than $1,000. The punishment for a felony charge includes anywhere from one to ten years in prison.
Theft by taking will also be considered a felony when the property is worth more than $500. But in certain situations, a judge can use his or her discretion to consider the crime a misdemeanor.
Theft by taking can also include a civil action from the victim of the theft. This means that the victim could sue for damages. Damages could include the value of the property, any other losses resulting from the theft, liquidated damages amounting to twice the value of the loss from the theft, or any costs resulting from bringing suit.