Theft is an umbrella term used to describe a wide range of crimes, ranging from shoplifting to embezzlement. Based on the value of the property stolen and the criminal background of the suspect, a person could face a misdemeanor or felony if convicted.
Arizona does not take a charge of theft lightly, regardless of what was stolen. As a serious charge, it is important to understand the penalties that these crimes carry and how having an experienced defense team on your side can help protect your future.
What Is Considered Theft in Arizona?
Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 13-1802, a person may be convicted of theft in a situation where they knowingly and without having the lawful authority to take any of the following actions:
- Having control of stolen property
- Using another person’s property or services for a period of time without authorization
- Having control of another person’s property with the intent of depriving that person of their property
- Obtaining compensable goods or services without paying for them
- Having control of lost property without attempting to find the property’s rightful owner
- Committing fraud as a means to obtain another person’s property or services
Common Theft-Related Offenses
Theft in Arizona can be present in many forms. Some of the most common types of theft-related offenses include the following:
Shoplifting is one of the most common forms of theft in Arizona. This type of theft occurs when a person enters a retail store and leaves with or conceals goods without first paying for them. The penalty for shoplifting is dependent on a variety of factors, such as the value of the property concealed or stolen, the use of a device, and the involvement of an accomplice.
2. Retail Theft from an Employer
Another common type of theft in Arizona is theft from an employer. This type of theft occurs when a person takes an item by using their knowledge of the business’s internal theft control policies or by taking items out of the business without authorization. This crime can also occur when an employee enables an accomplice to leave the business without paying for items or return items that were stolen from the business for money or credit.
3. Non-Retail Theft from an Employer
While retail theft from an employer focuses on a crime that involves stealing products or services offered by an employer, non-retail theft involves stealing other items, such as supplies.
4. Organized Retail Theft
Organized retail theft is a crime that occurs when a person shoplifts items with the intent of selling the proceeds. This type of theft can also occur when a person uses an instrument, artifice, device, container, or another article to facilitate the shoplift.
Embezzlement is one of the most serious types of theft crimes in Arizona. This type of theft involves withholding assets for the purpose of conversion of the assets. For example, embezzlement occurs when a person with money-handling duties accepts payments but does not register these transactions, and instead pockets the money. In some cases, embezzlement involves forgery allegations and fraudulent transfers.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony
Depending on the specifics surrounding the case, a crime of theft could either be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. The main difference between a misdemeanor charge and felony theft charge in Arizona focuses on the dollar value of the item or items stolen. As a general rule, the higher the dollar value of the good or service stolen, the harsher the penalties.
Penalties for Theft in Arizona
The penalties for theft in Arizona can range from a hefty fine to time in prison. Here is a look at how different types of thefts are classified in Arizona and the penalties assigned to each:
- Class 1 Misdemeanor – A person may face a class 1 misdemeanor if the value of the property stolen is less than $1,000. This is the lowest-level theft offense and is often classified as “petty theft.” A class 1 misdemeanor is generally punishable by up to $2,500 in fines, restitution to the victim, and up to six months in jail.
- Class 6 Felony – A class 6 felony conviction is the lowest-level felony crime in Arizona. A person may be charged with a class 6 felony if the value of the property stolen was between $1,000 and $2,000. If convicted, a person could face up to $150,000 in fines, and between four months and two years in prison.
- Class 5 Felony – A person may be convicted of a class 5 felony theft if the value of the property stolen was between $2,000 and $3,000. This crime carries a fine of up to $150,000 and a prison sentence of between six months and 2.5 years.
- Class 4 Felony – A class 4 felony involves the theft of property valued between $3,000 and $4,000. The theft of a vehicle engine or transmission may also result in a class 4 felony conviction. The penalty for a class 4 felony theft is up to $150,000 in fines and between 1 and 3.75 years in prison.
- Class 3 Felony – A person may be convicted of a class 3 felony if the value of the property stolen was between $4,000 and $25,000. The penalty for this type of time is a fine of up to $150,000 and between 2 and 8.5 years in prison.
- Class 2 Felony – A class 2 felony theft is the most serious type of theft crime in Arizona and involves the theft of property exceeding $25,000. If convicted, a person found guilty could face a fine of up to $150,000 and between 3 and 12.5 years in prison.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for theft in Arizona, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Your attorney can help you craft a strategic defense of the crime. Some of the most common defenses to charges brought under ARS 13-1802 include not committing an act knowingly, borrowing property, or claiming that you are the true owner of the property. To get started on your case, reach out to the criminal defense team at JacksonWhite.
Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.