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Attorney Katherine A. Gonos
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How Georgia laws classify a “smash and grab” burglary

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Georgia law classifies smash-and-grab burglaries as felony offenses. As noted in Section 16-7-2 of Georgia’s code, however, retail establishments must show that the event caused damages of at least $500. Individuals may face allegations of burglary by entering a retail establishment and removing goods without the authority to do so.

To qualify as a smash-and-grab burglary, a prosecutor must show proof that a defendant entered the retail establishment with the intent to cause damage and engage in an act of theft. Without these two elements, the prosecutor may not successfully persuade a jury to convict on a felony charge.

The value of goods allegedly stolen may not affect the charge classification

Peachtree State prosecutors generally file felony theft offenses based on prior charges and the monetary value of the goods allegedly taken. With smash-and-grab offenses, however, a smaller dollar amount of goods taken may not prevent prosecutors from filing felony charges.

According to the National Retail Federation, smash-and-grab burglaries may also reflect smaller thefts of items such as laundry detergent and razor blades. The smaller events and their frequency, however, often cause law enforcement to suspect the involvement of a large-scale coordinated theft ring.

A felony conviction could bring long-term consequences

As noted by the Marshall Project, a criminal record could place severe and long-term restrictions on employment opportunities and housing. Regardless of a possible reduction in the time spent in prison, the consequences and restrictions associated with a smash-and-grab felony record could last a lifetime. If charged with an alleged smash-and-grab offense, however, a defense may show the court evidence that counters a prosecutor’s claims.