What to Know About Theft by Taking Under Georgia’s Laws

Theft is taking America by storm. More than 5.2 million thefts occurred across the United States in 2018. The average theft saw more than $1,100 worth of property get stolen.

Many people are aware of basic theft laws. But fewer people understand what theft by taking is.

What are Georgia’s laws on theft by taking? What are the other kinds of theft, and what are their criminal penalties? How can a criminal defense attorney defend a client at trial?

Answer these questions and you can learn how to prevent crime and criminal convictions on theft. Here is your quick guide.

The Essentials of Theft by Taking

Section 16-8-2 of the Georgia Code provides the standards for theft by taking. It occurs when an individual takes someone else’s property so they can deprive that person of the property.

It does not matter how the person stole the property. They may have done so without the victim’s knowledge. The section does not consider whether the person used a gun or a weapon to take the property.

You may have heard of “larceny.” This is an alternate term for theft by taking that some states and legal professionals use. You can use the two interchangeably, though most judges and lawyers prefer “theft by taking.”

Related Concepts

Theft by taking covers most forms of theft in the state of Georgia. Yet there are other types of theft that criminal defendants need to understand.

Theft by deception occurs when someone deprives a person of property through some sort of deception. They may lie to a person in order to take their property.

They may promise to do something in exchange for property and then not do that task.

Theft by conversion happens when an individual acquires property legally. But they use that property for their personal benefit against the terms of a contract they signed. They may buy a piece of real estate claiming they will use it for their family, only to sell it for personal profit.

Theft of services is theft of entertainment or accommodations, not pieces of physical property. Theft by receiving stolen property occurs when someone receives stolen property, regardless of whether or not they stole it themselves.

The language for each law is generic, covering many kinds of conduct. It is possible for someone to commit multiple kinds of theft through a single act. Someone can also get charged for multiple thefts in one court hearing.


Georgia bases its penalties on the amount and type of stolen property or services. Someone who steals property that is worth $1,500 or less receives a misdemeanor charge. They may go to jail for up to 12 months and they may have to pay a $1,000 fine.

Theft of property between $1,500 and $5,000 can result in a five-year prison sentence. Theft between $5,000 and $25,000 can lead to ten years in prison. A theft at these levels can carry felony or misdemeanor weight depending on how a judge determines the case.

Theft of property at $25,000 or more does carry felony weight. A person faces up to 20 years in jail.

Theft of a firearm is a felony offense, regardless of how much the firearm is worth. A government or financial employee who commits theft while breaching their duties will receive felony charges as well.

Someone with multiple prior theft convictions faces a felony wobbler. This means that their misdemeanor theft can carry felony weight, regardless of how much they stole. It does not matter if the individual committed misdemeanors or felonies previously.

Being convicted of a felony is a serious problem. Georgia follows felony disenfranchisement, meaning that people convicted of felonies lose their right to vote. A person may also lose their right to own a gun and they may be listed on a statewide list for convicted felons.


There are many defenses under Georgia crime guidelines. Anyone who is accused of criminal activity should contact a criminal defense attorney.


There are two ways someone can “deprive” a person of their property. They can withhold property from them, or they can dispose of the property so the owner cannot recover it. This means that someone who holds property for safekeeping or until they receive payment does not commit theft.

Georgia defines “property of another” as property that the owner has an interest in. But the law makes exceptions for the property that a person’s spouse owns or that they own with the principal owner. If a defendant can prove a claim to the property, they may be able to avoid charges.


An alibi provides an alternate explanation to where a defendant was at the time of a crime. Proving that they were anywhere else can go a long way toward establishing reasonable doubt.

Alibis often speak to how courts evaluate eyewitness testimony. Both sides of the court case use eyewitnesses to establish the whereabouts of the defendant.

A defense attorney should suggest factors that impact the prosecution’s witnesses, including stress. They should also point to irrefutable evidence like surveillance tapes that shows their witnesses to be trustworthy.


In order to prove someone committed theft by taking, the prosecutor must show that they took the property with the intention of depriving the owner. Intention can be very difficult to prove.

Defense attorneys can show that there was no malicious intent in the theft. The defendant may have taken the property believing it was theirs. There may have been an oral agreement to allow the defendant to take the property.

Defend Yourself From Theft Charges

Theft by taking is everywhere. It occurs when an individual takes someone else’s property with malicious intent. It is one kind of theft under Georgia law, but the language is generic enough to reflect many criminal acts.

Even a small theft can send someone to prison for a year. The more valuable the property was, the higher the criminal penalties are.

But defendants have strong defenses. Their attorney can point to definitional issues and establish an alibi with eyewitness evidence.

Get legal help before you step into a courtroom. Jarrett Maillet serves the Savannah area. Contact us today!