Shoplifting FAQs

Experienced Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Serving Clients Throughout Maricopa County

Shoplifting is a serious crime in Arizona that, depending on the value of the allegedly stolen items and your prior record, can carry the very real possibility of jail time. However, many shoplifting cases can be quite challenging for the prosecution to prove. Thus, it is imperative that anyone facing a Phoenix shoplifting charge understands everything there is to know about the offense, how to defend against these charges, and what a possible sentence may look like if they are found guilty.

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our Phoenix criminal defense attorney regularly represents clients in all types of theft cases, including those involving allegations of shoplifting. We understand what the government needs to prove and how to effectively defend against these cases to ensure your arrest has as little impact on your future as possible.

Common Shoplifting FAQs Can I Be Arrested for Shoplifting if I Didn’t Leave the Store?

Yes, under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1805, shoplifting isn’t limited to those situations where someone walks out of a store with goods. Instead, the statute broadly defines shoplifting to include any of the following:

  • Concealing an item while inside a retail store;
  • Charging the cost of an item to a fictitious person;
  • Using another person’s method of payment without their consent; or
  • Paying less than the purchase price for goods by altering or swapping price tags.

Of course, walking out of a store with an item you didn’t pay for also constitutes shoplifting, but police and loss prevention officers (security guards) do not need to wait until you leave to stop you if they observe any of the above actions.

Can a Security Guard Legally Hold Me Until Police Arrive?

Yes, Arizona’s shoplifting law specifically gives stores and their agents, such as security guards, the ability to detain a person suspected of shoplifting for questioning if their belief that you were shoplifting is reasonable. A store employee, manager, or security guard can also hold you on-site while they call the police.

I Was Only Shoplifting, Why Am I charged with Robbery?

Shoplifting involves taking goods from a store without paying for them. However, if you use force against another person while shoplifting, it can turn into a robbery. Robbery is defined under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1902 as using threats or force to coerce another to give up their property or to prevent them from resisting. Thus, if you punch a security guard in the face as they approach you, what started off as a shoplifting case may turn into a robbery case.

If I Made an Honest Mistake, Am I Still Guilty of Shoplifting?

No, before a judge or jury can find you guilty of shoplifting, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to commit the offense. For example, if you accidentally placed an item at the bottom of your cart and forgot to scan it at a self-checkout register, you may be able to argue that you lacked the intent to shoplift. To succeed in making this argument, however, your Phoenix criminal defense attorney will need to convince the judge or jury 1.) that it was an honest mistake and 2.) the mistake was reasonable, given the surrounding circumstances.

To be sure, these are just a few of the most common shoplifting FAQs. If you have additional questions about your case, reach out to a dedicated Phoenix criminal defense attorney to discuss your case.

Are you Facing Phoenix Shoplifting Charges?

If you were recently arrested for shoplifting and wonder what your options are, reach out to the Law Office of James E. Novak to schedule a free consultation. Attorney Novak is a veteran criminal defense attorney who has handled countless theft charges on behalf of his clients. He understands what it takes to create a successful defense and is prepared to put in the time to ensure you receive the defense you deserve. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499.