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theft crimes attorney phoenix

If you’ve been charged with a theft crime in Arizona, you can certainly 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 the loss of your professional licensure, failure of background checks, and the loss of potential employment and security clearance. Obtaining a top Phoenix criminal defense attorney like those at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group will give you the best chance at avoiding a theft crime conviction and the subsequent penalties that come with it.

Types of Theft Crimes

You may hear theft crimes referred to as any number of things, including theft, larceny, robbery, burglary, or shoplifting. Though all of these offenses involve theft, they are not one and the same. There are certain factors that distinguish one theft crime from the next, and hence, determine 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.
  • 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 use of 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.

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 when it comes to 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.

Class 6 Felony Theft

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 for the purpose of fighting the animal 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.

Class 5 Felony Theft

A class 5 felony involves the theft of property or services worth more than $2,000 but still 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.

Class 4 Felony Theft

A class 4 felony involves the theft of property or services worth more than $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 presumption sentence of two and a half years, with a maximum penalty of 15 years.

Class 3 Felony Theft

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 the theft of goods 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

Class 2 felony theft is the most serious charge that Arizona places on theft crimes. It requires that the theft of 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, and 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:

  • Actual damages
  • A penalty amounting to the retail value of the stolen merchandise
  • An additional fine of $250 or more

If it is a minor that 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 Crimes

There are a number of avenues that an Arizona 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:

  • Mistaken Identity
    • If you are charged with a theft felony 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 as the result of misleading picture lineups and misidentification in surveillance video.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights
    • Your attorney will also look into defenses regarding any potential breaches of your constitutional rights, including illegal search and seizures and violations of your Miranda Rights or your right to counsel.
  • Insufficient or Unreliable Evidence
    • Your lawyer will also thoroughly look into the polices’ 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.
  • Presence Defense
    • 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 any criminal activity that ensued. 
  • Mental State
    • 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.

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, negotiate the criminal justice system, and explain the implications of a plea bargain or a criminal record. Remember, even if the accusations are for something like 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 find yourself in Phoenix or the neighboring areas and are facing theft crime allegations – don’t hesitate! Call or text us today at 602-910-4040, or feel free to fill out our online intake form on our Contact page.



Our team of compassionate and experienced attorneys are here to help guide you in your time of need.

Ray A. Ybarra Maldonado, Esq.

Founder & Principal Attorney of Ybarra Maldonado Law Group
Criminal Law, Immigration Law, Personal Injury, and Civil Rights
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Brett Turley, Esq.

Senior Criminal Defense Associate Attorney
Ybarra Maldonado & Associates
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