Civil Theft

While TV and movies make us think about theft as usually being a bad guy girl holding someone at gunpoint demanding their wallet, that’s only one small part of how people can steal something that doesn’t belong to them.

Georgia law includes a variety of terms that define theft at a criminal and a civil level. There are many ways that people can face penalties for taking someone’s property or services without permission. The state’s definition of theft basically includes whatever action can deprive an owner of something they own, use, or have a legal right to.



The Official Code of Georgia Annotated Section 16-8-2 through 16-8-9 outlines the various penalties for theft and conditions that someone could receive criminal or civil punishment for, everything from theft of specific chemicals to theft of cemetery memorials.

Theft can also include products or services that someone takes and benefits from items that aren’t theirs, anything from an employee embezzling company funds to someone claiming that they won a vacation package that isn’t theirs.

The legal process

According to Section 51-10 of Georgia code, the civil process in Georgia starts with the person who believes they have been stolen from, such as a business owner or store owner, sending the person or people a written and certified letter, requiring them to return the item or pay the value of what was taken. The legal demand should also include:

  • A specific listing of the value of the item as well as any specific losses that have been incurred due the item’s theft.
  • A specific listing of any punitive damages, either up to $300 or three times the actual value of what was lost, whichever amount is higher.



The letter must state that if the item isn’t returned or value paid within 30 days, the original property owner can proceed to seek this in a legal setting and also include any legal fees and court costs.

If these conditions are met within 30 days, then the matter is considered satisfied, at least from a civil standpoint.

If they aren’t, then the owner can take the next step and pursue this matter in court.

A Georgia attorney knowledgeable about civil theft standards can help with this process.

Read Thrift McLemore Blog Posts about Civil Theft

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Need more information or have legal questions? Contact us directly at 678-784-4150.

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