Georgia’s “Porch Piracy” Law Makes Package Theft a Felony
In June 2021, Georgia joined a handful of other states that have enacted laws meant to tamp down on the growing problem of packages being stolen from front stoops of homes after being delivered. The new law makes “porch piracy” a crime distinct from federal mail theft.
Porch piracy is defined as removing three or more packages from the porch, steps or immediate vicinity of three or more addresses. The law also creates a separate crime called theft by possession of stolen mail. You can face this charge if you steal mail addressed to three or more different mailboxes or addresses and possess 10 or more separate pieces of stolen mail. Each of these new crimes is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, though judges have discretion to reduce the charges to misdemeanors.
In the short time that the law has been in effect, there is scarce data on how many people have been charged with violations. A December study by 11Alive, a local television station, confirmed that nine Atlanta metro area police departments, including Atlanta PD and DeKalb County PD, were not even tracking stolen packages separately from other types of theft. Only two law enforcement agencies provided data on how many package thefts had occurred: Cobb County PD with 55 incidents and Brookhaven PD with 16. However, those departments did not say how many people, if any, had been arrested or charged under the new law.
As time passes, it is likely that more law enforcement agencies will update their systems to keep better track of porch piracy charges. A Gwinnett PD spokesperson told 11Alive that their agency was doing exactly that. However, the threat of arrest and prosecution for porch piracy is real and present in all areas of the state.
It is important for anyone charged with mail theft or porch piracy to get help from a qualified Georgia criminal defense lawyer immediately. In addition to possible felony charges under the new state law, you could be charged with federal mail theft, a conviction of which could mean prison time and fines of up to $250,000.
The law firm of James D. Michael, P.C. in Decatur has more than 25 years of experience representing clients accused of felony and misdemeanor thefts in the Atlanta area. Call 404-857-4059 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation.