Felony theft by taking carries a punishment from 1 year to 10 years to serve; however, all of it can be probated (and usually is) on a first offense. If the jurisdiction has a Pre-Trial Diversion program, the offender can pay a fee, perform community service, and make restitution in exchange for an outright dismissal. However, the victim must agree to it.
The offender is eligible to be treated under the First Offender statute, which allows the offender to go on probation, pay fines, fees, restitution, perform community service, etc. in exchange for a finding of Not Guilty if the probation term is successfully completed. Usually the state has no objection to First Offender treatment. If the offender messes up on probation, the state can bring the offender back to court and re-sentence the offender to the maximum.
A theft conviction virtually ruins a person's chances of ever getting meaningful employment. That's why it's so important that the accused have representation. Also, the state won't offer First Offender or Pre-Trial Diversion unless the accused is represented.
Michael Moody has done a really good job of outlining the options for your family member. I am writing to add that it is very important for this person to get an attorney as soon as possible, as the chances of working something out are much better if the person is not waiting until the last minute to talk to the prosecutor.
You need to hire a local attorney in Douglasville. If you want to know who the local ones are, you can come and watch the calendar call in Judge Emerson's courtroom this Wednesday or Judge McClain this Thursday. Ask around.
More info here: http://www.napierlawllc.com/legalservices/criminaldefense.html
Don't wait until the last minute.