Fraud and theft crimes occur when a person or entity intentionally uses misleading or false information to illegally deprive another person or entity of funds, property, or legal rights. In Peoria, Arizona, these criminal offenses are punishable by law and can carry penalties based on the seriousness of the crime.
If you or a loved one has been accused of theft or fraud in Arizona, it is imperative to reach out to an attorney for legal help. A Peoria criminal defense attorney will review your case and discuss your options to ensure the most favorable outcome possible.
Theft and Fraud Laws in Peoria
In Arizona, theft and fraud law is broad and encompasses a wide range of civil and criminal activities. The state defines theft as taking control of another person’s property with the intent of depriving that person of the property or using a person’s property or services without lawful authority for an unauthorized period of time.
Fraud is used to define offenses that involve dishonesty or misrepresentation of fact, deceitful behavior, or a falsified statement. In Peoria, fraud offenses may include but are not limited to tax fraud, mail fraud, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, bankruptcy fraud, embezzlement, identity theft, and unemployment fraud.
If you have been accused of theft or fraud in the state of Arizona, the prosecutor assigned to your case must prove the allegations against you beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor’s argument must establish that you received some benefits (e.g. money or property), that you obtained it through false means, and that you intentionally ran a scheme in an effort to defraud another person or entity.
Penalties for Theft and Fraud Convictions
The penalties for a theft conviction in Arizona are based on a number of factors, such as the value of the item allegedly stolen. If a stolen item is worth less than $1,000, it constitutes as a class 1 misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail, three years of probation, and a $2,500 fine. If the item is a firearm, the theft is a class 6 felony and is punishable by up to one year in prison.
Organized retail, theft by extortion, and unlawful use of a means of transportation typically result in a felony charge. Felonies carry prison sentences ranging from one year for class 6 up to 25 years to life for class 1.
In Arizona, a class 1 misdemeanor carries an incarceration period of six months, class 2 is four months, and class 3 is 30 days. Issuing a bad check is a class 1 misdemeanor with the exception of checks in the amount of $5,000 or more which is a felony.
Fraud penalties are based on the nature of the crime and whether or not you’re a first-time offender. In Arizona, a first-time offense is a class 2 felony and results in punishment ranging from probation to up to one year in prison, as well as a fine of up to $150,000. If fraud losses exceed $100,000, probation is not granted.
More serious crimes may be prosecuted in federal court and carry harsher penalties. If found guilty of a fraudulent act in court, the defendant may be ordered to compensate the victim by paying civil penalties which may include attorney fees and restitution.
Defenses to Theft and Fraud Charges
A highly experienced and skilled Peoria criminal defense attorney is required to defend against theft and fraud charges. By working with a qualified attorney, you can rest assured that your constitutional rights are not being violated and that you are given the best defense possible.
A criminal defense attorney may use a number of defense strategies based on the unique circumstances of your theft case, such as lack of intent, factual innocence, insufficient evidence, or proving that the wrong person was charged for the crime. The defense may also challenge the amount of the value that was allegedly stolen, prove that you are the true owner of the property, or prove that you mistakenly believed that you had permissive use of the property.
Fraudulent schemes and scams can be more challenging to defend. When faced with a charge of fraud, a criminal defense attorney will find any and all weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Attorneys have used a number of defenses for fraudulent schemes and illegal enterprise crimes, such as no proof of intent, suppression of evidence due to fourth, fifth, and/or sixth amendment violations, and restitution agreements in which your attorney will negotiate a reduction of charges in exchange for restitution of funds.
Call the Peoria JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.