Arizona’s theft laws prohibit individuals from physically taking or exercising unlawful control over another’s property. While most theft crimes involve another person’s tangible property, it’s also against the law to obtain services without paying for them. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our Tempe theft crimes lawyer aggressively defends the rights of clients charged with misdemeanor theft crimes. With more than 20 years of experience investigating, negotiating, and litigating on behalf of good people charged with serious crimes, Attorney Novak understands what it takes to secure the best possible result in your case.
- What Is Misdemeanor Theft in Arizona?
- What is the Different Between Misdemeanor Theft and Petty Theft?
- Is Shoplifting Considered Misdemeanor Theft?
- What Are the Punishments for an Arizona Misdemeanor Theft Conviction?
- Are There Defenses to Misdemeanor Theft Crimes?
The majority of Arizona’s theft laws are contained in Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1802, which provides a list of offenses and punishments. For example, the crime of theft, which is also referred to as larceny, can include any of the following:
- Physically taking another person’s property without their permission;
- Keeping lost property without making a reasonable attempt to find the property’s owner;
- Obtaining goods or services from a person or business without paying for them;
- Possessing or exercising control over property that you is stolen; and
- Exceeding the permitted use of another’s property.
Each of the above can be either misdemeanor theft or felony theft, depending on the value of the property or services. For example, a theft offense is only a misdemeanor if the value of the goods or services is less than $1,000. Stealing anything worth more than $1,000 is considered felony theft.
However, there are two situations in which theft of goods or services valued at less than $1,000 results in felony charges. First, the theft of a firearm—regardless of the firearm’s value—is automatically a felony. Second, if you have a prior misdemeanor theft conviction within the past two years, your second theft case will be a felony under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-707(B).
In Arizona, the terms petty theft and misdemeanor theft are used interchangeably in that they both refer to crimes involving less than $1,000.
The punishments for shoplifting are similar to those for other types of theft crimes. For example, shoplifting items valued at less than $1,000 is a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if you were previously convicted of shoplifting within the past two years, the offense will be charged as a Class 6 felony.
If you are convicted of misdemeanor theft, the offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. In Arizona, a Class 1 misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Yes, there are several defenses to theft charges. If successful, a defense can either result in the prosecution withdrawing your case or an acquittal. In some cases, a defense may not completely absolve you of liability but can reduce your exposure, for example, by reducing the seriousness of the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor. The most common defenses to misdemeanor theft include the following:
- You made an honest mistake in taking another’s property; in other words, you lacked the intent to deprive the owner of their property;
- You had permission to take, control or use the property;
- While you took property without permission, you intended to return it;
- Law enforcement violated your rights when searching for the allegedly stolen property; or
- The owner of the property inflated the value of the goods.
If you were recently arrested and charged with misdemeanor theft, it is imperative that you find an attorney who will take your case as seriously as you do. A conviction for misdemeanor theft not only subjects you to jail time, probation and various fines, but it will also put you in a much worse position should you ever get arrested in the future because you’ll face increased penalties. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we understand the stress and anxiety that comes along with having an open criminal case, and we’re here to help you fight your case. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Tempe theft crimes lawyer today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our online contact form.