Shoplifting can carry some stiff penalties in the state of Arizona.
What’re the consequences of stealing from a major department store? Is it worse than stealing from a local market? These are questions that seem to be on a lot of people’s minds after they’re caught shoplifting from any major retailer like Walmart.
Individuals assume they can get away with theft because of the sheer size of the establishment.
These massive buildings like Walmart, Target, and Sears seem to be more at risk for petty theft than their smaller mom and pop counterparts.
In an AZ Central article from 2007, it was estimated that Walmart loses $3 billion a year from theft. Since then, Walmart has put more security staff into stores in high crime areas, and fewer in low incident areas.
Defining Shoplifting in Arizona
Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes committed in Arizona.
It’s defined as:
- Taking goods without paying for them
- Taking goods by charging someone without their permission
- Paying less than the purchase price by altering price tags or labels
- Transferring goods from “one container to another”
- Concealing goods
Simply put, an individual commits shoplifting if they knowingly take goods from another person.
In Arizona, shoplifting can be considered a misdemeanor or felony offense. Here’s a look at the penalties and consequences for each type of theft.
Misdemeanor Shoplifting Penalties
According to A.R.S. 13-1805, any stolen property under $1,000 is a misdemeanor.
Unless the person steals a firearm, regardless of value, that’s automatically a class 6 felony.
First Time Offenses
For misdemeanors, first time offenders may be able to attend diversion classes or do community service in order to avoid penalties if the case is minor enough.
A more serious class 1 misdemeanor could mean anywhere from zero to sixty days in jail and fines of up to $2,500.
Felony Shoplifting Penalties
Shoplifting any property between $1,000 and $2,000 is a class 6 felony, and anything over $2000 is a Class 5 felony.
Consequences will depend on the severity of the situation, but defendants can expect anywhere from 4 months to 2 years in prison for their first conviction.
If this is your 2nd of 3rd felony you can expect several years in prison.
Possible Defenses For Shoplifting
There are three popular defenses against shoplifting charges: lack of intent, lack of knowledge, and Miranda rights violations.
Lack Of Intent Defense
To be convicted of shoplifting charges, a defendant must have acted with the intent to shoplift. Proving that you unintentionally shoplifted — perhaps by thoughtlessly placing an item in your pocket while your hands were full, or accidentally leaving the store without paying for an item — would therefore be a valid defense.
There are a number of ways to prove lack of intent, such as:
- Presenting a receipt from the same day to show you paid for other items
- Demonstrating your ability to pay for the shoplifted items
- Establishing your good moral character
Lack Of Knowledge Defense
The lack of knowledge defense is often used in cases where the price tag on the shoplifted item is swapped for a tag from a less expensive item. As long as someone else switched the price tags without your knowledge and you didn’t intend to shoplift, you’re innocent.
Another example is when professional shoplifters secretly place a product in another shopper’s pocket, then try to pick-pocket the shopper outside the store to retrieve the item. Obviously the person who unknowingly acted as a “mule” didn’t have the intent to steal, and would be innocent of the shoplifting charges.
Miranda Rights Violations
Many attorneys like to combine one of the previously mentioned shoplifting defenses with a Miranda rights violation to further strengthen the case.
Common examples of Miranda rights violations include coercing a confession, refusing to let the defendant call an attorney, challenging the validity of an unlawful search, and failure to advise a defendant of their Miranda rights.
Are You Facing Shoplifting Charges?
Shoplifting is a very common offense in Arizona, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to deal with the repercussions.
Over the years, we’ve helped hundreds of shoplifting clients and many of our clients have had their shoplifting convictions expunged or set aside.
We approach shoplifting defense by fully exploring all legal angles available for your case and then choose the best options that will make it more likely to receive a favorable outcome.
We’ve helped clients get cases dismissed or receive lessened penalties over and over again with our aggressive and effective approach to defense.
Our defense attorneys are familiar with shoplifting charges for both adults and juveniles, and we can help you devise a legal plan that’s best for you.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.