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Have You Been Charged with a Theft Crime in Phoenix, AZ?
If you’ve been charged with a theft crime in Arizona, you can expect much more than just a slap on the wrist. Despite the criminal penalties that accompany this charge, the consequences of an Arizona theft conviction can also be catastrophic in terms of your personal life. Whether a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction like this can result in losing your professional license, failure of background checks, and the loss of potential employment and security clearance. Retaining a Phoenix theft crimes lawyer from Ybarra Maldonado Law Group will give you the best possible chance of a favorable outcome.
If you are facing a theft charge or conviction, don’t wait to speak with a theft defense attorney until it’s too late. Contact the team at YMLG today by calling 602-910-4040 and scheduling your consultation with us.
How Does Arizona Law Define Theft?
According to the language in ARS 13-1802, one can commit theft by knowingly using or taking someone else’s property without their permission or legal authority. Depending on the specific details of a case, being convicted of a theft offense can come with serious penalties.
Some examples of common theft penalties include jail time, either a felony or misdemeanor charge, and all other penalties that come from having a serious criminal history. Understanding the potential penalties associated with misdemeanor or felony theft charges is crucial in knowing the severity of your case.
If you are facing a theft charge, we strongly recommend working with an experienced theft lawyer. We will examine the facts of your case and advise you on the best way to defend your rights and freedoms.
This is the specific part of the Arizona Revised Statutes that defines theft offenses. The specific language includes more than just taking a person’s property as a crime of theft. Below, we list other actions that could result in a theft charge.
- Controlling another person’s property with the intent to deprive that person of its use
- Obtaining property or services belonging to another person by way of misrepresentation with the intent to deprive that person of the property or services
- Controlling someone else’s property while knowing or having a reason to know that they were dealing with stolen property
As an example, imagine that someone steals a car, committing grand theft auto in the process. They ask a close friend to store the stolen property in their garage, and the friend agrees. If this friend knows they are concealing stolen property, they could still face a theft charge.
Types of Theft Crimes
You may hear theft crimes referred to as any number of things, including theft, larceny, robbery, burglary, auto theft, or shoplifting. Though all of these offenses involve theft, they are not one and the same. Certain factors distinguish one theft crime from the next, determining the penalties associated with that crime. So, what is the difference between theft, shoplifting, burglary, and robbery?
- Theft: the act of taking physical control of tangible property or assets without consent and with no intention of returning the property.
- Shoplifting: the act of entering any retail establishment during business hours and knowingly and intentionally taking an item without paying for it. Contact a shoplifting attorney with our firm for qualified defense.
- Burglary: the act of illegally entering a building or establishment and removing a piece of property without interacting with the property owner. (Burglary in the first degree occurs when the offender knowingly possesses explosives, a deadly weapon, or a dangerous instrument in conducting a theft crime or other felony.)
- Robbery: successfully stealing or attempting to steal property by force, coercion, or intimidation.
What it really comes down to in legal terms is the value of the items stolen and, in certain cases, the type of property stolen. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions can lead to time in jail or prison, as well as probation, community restitution, and large fines. This is why you should always contact an experienced lawyer when faced with these charges.
Misdemeanor Theft Charges in Arizona
Theft of less than $1,000 worth of goods or services is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. Misdemeanor theft, commonly known as petty theft, is the lowest form of theft under Arizona law. A person convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor risks a maximum of six months in prison and a fine of up to $2,500.
However, if a person is convicted of misdemeanor stealing for the second time within a two-year window, the penalty will increase to a class 6 felony charge.
Felony Theft Arizona
Based on the offender’s prior criminal record, Arizona law has different sentencing ranges for felony theft, ranging from a class 6 felony to a class 2 felony. Below, we’ll provide the presumptive sentence for a first felony crime, as well as the maximum possible term typically reserved for repeat offenders.
In Arizona, if the theft included goods or services worth more than $1,000 but less than $2,000, the crime is a class 6 felony. Stealing a firearm or animal (to use the animal for fighting) is also a class 6 felony, regardless of the value. For a first offense, a class 6 felony carries a one-year presumptive term and a maximum penalty of five years and nine months in prison.
A class 5 felony involves stealing property or services worth over $2,000 but less than $3,000. A person convicted of a first-time class 5 felony risks a minimum presumptive sentence of one and a half years and a maximum term of seven and a half years.
A class 4 felony involves stealing property or services worth over $3,000 but less than $4,000. Stealing a car engine or transmission, regardless of its worth, is also a class 4 felony. In Arizona, a first-time class 4 felony carries a presumptive sentence of two and a half years, with a maximum penalty of 15 years.
If you noticed a theme in the value of goods or services that determined the previous felony offenses, this is where that trend changes. Rather than falling between $4,000 and $5,000, a class 3 felony entails stealing property or services worth more than $4,000 but less than $25,000. A first-time offender faces a three-and-a-half-year presumptive sentence and a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison.
Class 2 felony theft is the most serious charge that Arizona places on theft crimes. It requires that stolen property or services be valued at $25,000 or more. For a first offense, a conviction for a class 2 felony carries a five-year presumptive sentence, while a maximum term can reach up to 35 years.
Once the value of goods or services stolen reaches $100,000 or more, the offender becomes ineligible for a pardon, suspended sentence, early release, or probation.
Arizona Shoplifting Laws
Those convicted of shoplifting charges face all of the above criminal penalties. However, they also potentially face civil penalties, as well. A shoplifter may be liable to the store owner from which they stole for the following losses.
- Actual damages
- A penalty amounting to the retail value of the stolen merchandise
- An additional fine of $250 or more
If a minor commits the theft, their parent or legal guardian can be held responsible instead. As such, they may owe the business owner for real damages, a penalty equal to the retail value of the goods, and an extra penalty of at least $100.
Defenses Against Theft Crime Charges Brought Under ARS 13-1802
There are several avenues that a Phoenix criminal defense attorney at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group may take when it comes to providing the best possible defense for your case. Of course, what defenses are used ultimately depends on the specific facts of your case. Some of the more common defense strategies we use here at YMLG include the following.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony theft in Arizona based on eyewitness identification, we might consider challenging the eyewitness’ testimony. Eyewitness testimony has been proven to be one of the least trustworthy forms of evidence. Wrongful arrests may also occur due to misleading picture lineups and surveillance video misidentifications.
Your attorney will also look into defenses regarding any potential breaches of your constitutional rights, including illegal search and seizure, violations of your Miranda Rights, or violations of your right to counsel.
Your lawyer will also thoroughly examine the police’s investigative competence and the validity of the evidence used against you. This entails what evidence was properly preserved and which evidence was not properly preserved, as well as the quality of the witnesses, witness testimonies, police reports, and record keeping. Your attorney may also bring into question the alleged value of the stolen products or services.
Say you were merely present in the vicinity where the theft occurred, but you did not have any criminal intent and did not participate in the act itself. In this case, you may be able to use the presence defense. This defense essentially claims you were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time but were not responsible for the theft committed.
To be successful, Arizona theft prosecutions must make evident that you had the knowledge and desire to do what you did. Attacking your capacity to prove your knowledge, motivation, and mental state can help in reducing or even dismissing your charges.
Can Theft Crime Charges Be Dropped or Downgraded?
Yes, it is possible to have theft crimes dropped or downgraded in Arizona. For example, first-time offenders may be able to downgrade what would have been a class 6 felony to a class 1 misdemeanor. This is generally up to the judge’s discretion.
If it is possible to have theft charges dropped, this will usually occur at the first hearing for your case. Having charges downgraded or dropped entirely often requires assistance from an experienced defense lawyer.
The attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group will examine your case from all angles and provide you with sound legal advice. We will also help you protect your legal rights in the process.
Call An Experienced Phoenix Theft Crimes Attorney at YMLG
If you’re facing theft crime charges in Arizona, you also face serious penalties under the law. With the possibility of prison time, fines, probation, and other punishments for theft on the line, it is crucial that you obtain the help of a theft crimes attorney. An experienced Phoenix theft crimes attorney can be the difference between a conviction and a not guilty verdict.
An attorney can also help you defend your rights, navigate the criminal justice system, and explain the implications of a plea bargain or a criminal record. Remember, even if the accusations are for petty theft and only result in a misdemeanor, having a criminal record can significantly impact your future.
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, we have successfully defended clients accused of misdemeanor and felony theft in plea negotiations and at trial. We provide a free consultation to answer questions and educate clients on their charges, fines, and potential defenses. If you are facing criminal charges in the Phoenix area, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney. Call us today at 602-910-4040, or fill out our online intake form.
Our team of compassionate and experienced attorneys are here to help guide you in your time of need.
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