Being accused of stealing can be can be an embarrassing ordeal. Depending on the value of the alleged loss, a theft charge can range anywhere from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a First-degree felony. The penalties can range anywhere from a simple fine to time in prison. The consequences of pleading guilty to a theft charge follow you for the rest of your life. Theft is a “crime of moral turpitude” and many potential employers, universities, and other agencies will require you to list it on an application.
When you are facing charges of this nature, having a skilled Chandler theft crimes lawyer can make all the difference. Call Villanueva Skura Attorneys at Law today at to learn more about your case at your free consultation.
Aggressive Defense Strategies
The State of Arizona aggressively prosecutes theft cases. You need a competent theft defense attorney on your side that can review the evidence and fight to keep a theft conviction off your record. In many situations, there can be a resolution that does not end with a conviction on your record. There may be diversion programs available that can avoid a conviction on your record. If there was a complaining witness, many times the Prosecutor’s Office is more concerned with securing restitution rather than the actual conviction on your record. There are many more options available than just pleading guilty to theft.
If you are in a large chain retail store, such as Wal-Mart or Target, store security will detain you and question you before calling the police. While a shoplifting charge may seem minor, a theft conviction of any type can follow you for the rest of your life. It will show up on any routine background check and could ruin your chances at getting the job of your dreams. Whether you are accused of stealing a $60,000 car or a $2 candy bar, a theft charge must be taken very seriously.
Types of Theft Crimes
There are many different types of theft crimes. Generally, the State of Arizona will need to show two things before they can convict you of a theft crime: 1) that you had criminal intent, meaning you took the property with the intent to steal it, and 2) that you had possession of the property.
Some of the more common theft crimes are:
- Writing bad checks
- Check forgery
- Credit card theft
- Identity theft
- Buying or accepting stolen property
- Auto theft
- Fraud or embezzlement
Each crime requires proof of different elements and has different defenses available. And, for each element of the charged offense, Arizona’s shoplifting laws are codified in ARS §13-1805. The statute lists the elements the prosecutor has to prove to convict someone of shoplifting.
In all shoplifting cases, the government must prove that you went to a place that offered goods for sale, and you knowingly obtained those goods with the intent to deprive the person of those goods by:
- Removing the goods without paying;
- Charging the price of the goods to a fake person or a real person without permission;
- Paying less than the purchase price by changing, removing or substituting the price tag;
- Transferring the goods from one container to another; or
- Concealing the goods
Arizona law presumes that a person who knowingly conceals purchased merchandise within the store or uses an artifice; container, instrument or another article to facilitate the shoplifting, has the necessary culpable mental state to commit the crime.
The legal consequences for shoplifting vary depending on the value of the item, the manner in which the item or items were shoplifted, and the frequency of thefts. Shoplifters can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. If the act is deemed a misdemeanor, the charge will usually take place in a municipal/city court or the Maricopa County Justice court in the city where the crime took place.
Class 1 Misdemeanor:
- Shoplifting an item or items worth less than $1,000, unless it’s a firearm, is considered a class 1 misdemeanor.
Class 6 Felony:
- Shoplifting an item or items worth $1,000 or more, but less than $2,000 is considered a class 6 felony.
- Shoplifting a firearm is considered a class 6 felony.
Class 5 Felony:
- Shoplifting an item or items worth $2,000 or more is considered a class 5 felony.
- Shoplifting an item or items during a continuing criminal episode is considered a class 5 felony. A “continuing criminal episode” is defined as “theft of property with a value of one thousand five hundred dollars or more if committed during at least three separate incidences within a period of ninety consecutive days,” under ARS §13-1805.
- Shoplifting an item or items with the intention of promoting, continuing, or assisting criminal organizations is considered a class 5 felony.
Class 4 Felony:
- Using any artifice, container, device, instrument, or any other item intended to assist in shoplifting is considered a class 4 felony. If you have been convicted of two or more shoplifting, robbery, burglary, organized retail theft, or theft offenses within the past five years and are caught shoplifting, it is considered a class 4 felony.
Consequences vary depending on what was shoplifted. The penalties can also change depending on what jurisdiction the crime falls under. Each district has their own way of dealing with theft. In general, first-time offenses can be settled through diversion and community service. Other penalties can include jail time and heavy fines, depending on the value of the goods.
At Villanueva Skura Attorneys at Law, our theft crimes lawyer in Chandler has successfully represented clients all over Arizona. Contact us now for a free consultation at 480-923-9001.