2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 45 - PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES
CHAPTER 11 - MISCELLANEOUS OFFENSES CONCERNING PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES
§ 45-11-1 - Offenses involving public records, documents, and other items

O.C.G.A. 45-11-1 (2010)
45-11-1. Offenses involving public records, documents, and other items


(a) If any public officer or other person shall steal, embezzle, alter, corrupt, withdraw, falsify, or avoid any record, process, charter, gift, grant, conveyance, or contract; or shall knowingly and willfully take off, discharge, or conceal any issue, forfeited recognizance, or other forfeiture; or shall forge, deface, or falsify any document or instrument recorded or any registry, acknowledgment, or certificate; or shall alter, deface, or falsify any minutes, document, book, or any proceeding whatever of or belonging to any public office within this state; or if any person shall cause or procure any of these offenses to be committed, or to be in any manner concerned therein, he shall be guilty of a felony and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by imprisonment and labor in the penitentiary for not less than two years nor more than ten years.

(b) Whosoever, without authority and with the intention of converting to his own or another's use, willfully conceals any record, book, or document while on the premises of any public office or willfully removes any book, document, record, or other property from any such office shall be guilty of stealing such property. Proof of the concealment of such record or other office property while still on the premises shall be prima-facie evidence of intent to steal.

(c) A public officer or employee may detain and question any person whose conduct causes reasonable ground for suspicion that such person is engaging in stealing or criminal damage to the records in a public office.

(d) A public officer or employee causing the arrest or detention of any person pursuant to this Code section shall not be held civilly liable for slander, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, malicious arrest, assault and battery of the person, physical injuries and mental suffering, or any other suit for damages arising from such arrest, whether such arrest takes place on the public property or after close pursuit from such premises by such officer; provided, however, that, in causing the arrest of such person, the officer or employee had probable cause at the time of such arrest to believe that the person was committing unlawful acts relating to public documents and the arrest and detention were under reasonable circumstances.

(e) Upon presentation of affirmative proof, the Secretary of State or his or her designee may initiate action through the Attorney General or other appropriate jurisdiction to prevent the sale, transfer, conveyance, destruction, or alienation of any records, books, documents, or other office property which has been unlawfully removed from any public office or public officer or employee. Upon request of the Secretary of State or his or her designee, the Attorney General or other appropriate jurisdiction shall have the authority to enjoin, recover, and replevin such records, books, documents, or other office property.

(f) As used in this Code section, the term:

(1) "Records, books, documents, or other office property" means, but is not limited to, all books, plates, pictures, photographs, films, engravings, paintings, drawings, maps, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, broadsides, personal papers, organization records, documents, letters, public records, microforms, sound recordings, audiovisual materials in any format, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data processing records, artifacts, or other documentary, written, or printed material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, belonging to, on loan to, or otherwise in the custody of any public office;

(2) "Public office" means any office held, used, or controlled for public purposes by any department, agency, board, or branch of state, county, or municipal government without reference to the ownership of the building or of the realty on which it is situated. Such term includes any archives, library, or records storage area maintained by such governments;

(3) "Avoid" means to annul, cancel, make void, destroy the efficacy of, or destroy without authority any record, book, document, or other office property;

(4) "Public officer or employee" means any officer or employee having custody of or responsibility for any records, books, documents, or other office property referred to in this Code section.

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