Shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The value of the item you’ve been accused of lifting from a store will affect the charges and sentences. Generally, the charges are more serious when the value of the stolen items is high. If you’ve been charged with shoplifting, you should discuss your situation with Tempe theft crimes lawyer James E. Novak. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Novak develops insights gained from his previous role in the criminal justice system to defend the accused.Shoplifting
In Arizona, shoplifting is criminalized under Arizona Revised Statute section 13-1805. A Tempe prosecutor can secure a conviction if she can prove beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) you knowingly, (2) obtained goods of another, (3) intending to deprive the other person of goods. Each of these elements is critical to the conviction. If, for example, a prosecutor can’t prove you knowingly took items from the store, it will not have proved its case.
You can be charged with shoplifting if you do any of the following to knowingly obtain another’s goods intending to deprive him or her of the goods while in an establishment in which merchandise is for sale:
- You remove goods from where they’re displayed or from another spot in the store without paying whatever price is set or
- You charge the purchase price of the goods to a made-up person or anybody without that person’s authority or
- You pay less than the purchase price of goods through a trick such as changing, removing, or putting in place a false price tag or marking or
- You move goods from one container to another or
- Commit concealment.
- You’re presumed to possess the needed culpable mental state for shoplifting if you either
- Knowingly conceal on your person or someone else merchandise you didn’t buy for any mercantile establishment while also within the mercantile establishment or
- Used an instrument, container, article, artifice or device in order to shoplift the item at issue.
Although your constitutional rights must be respected by the police, the store or its agent or employee can keep you at the property in a reasonable way to question you about shoplifting or to call the police. If you shoplift property that’s worth at least $2000 or you shoplift in connection with a continuing criminal episode or shoplift in order to help street gang or syndicate, you can face class 5 felony charges and sentencing. However, if you shoplift property that’s $100 - $2000, you can be charged and sentenced for a class 6 felony.
When you shoplift property that’s worth less than $1000, you can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. If the property is a firearm, the shoplifting is a class 6 felony. A continuing criminal episode involves stealing property worth at least $1500 in each of 3 separate incidences over a span of 90 days in a row.
You can be charged and sentenced for a class 4 felony if: (1) a prosecutor can prove you used a container, device, instrument, article or other artifice while intending to facilitate shoplifting and (2) you previously committed or were convicted over the course of five years of two or more crimes involving shoplifting, theft, organized retail theft or burglary.Defense
A range of defenses may be available for shoplifting charges, among them constitutional or procedural defenses. If you were subject to false or unlawful imprisonment, wrongful detention or false arrest, our attorney may be able to defend you by raising reasonable cause or showing you were detained for a reasonable length time.Minors’ Shoplifting
It’s important for parents to realize that their minors’ shoplifting can have consequences for them as well. When a minor is involved in shoplifting, she might not be held responsible. However, the merchant harmed by the shoplifting can bring a civil action against the parent or legal guardian of the minor. Evidence developed in a criminal case could be used in the civil case against a minor; depending on the circumstances, a conviction could haunt a minor in the future when applying for college or taking other important steps. It is critical to retain an experienced lawyer to defend a minor against these charges.Sentence
The class of misdemeanor or felony involved, along with your prior offenses, will determine the sentence imposed. When imposing a sentence on you, the court can mandate that you perform public service on top of ordering a fine or as a replacement for a fine.Hire an Experienced Tempe Lawyer for Shoplifting Charges
Seasoned Tempe theft attorney James E. Novak may be able to represent you if you or your child is charged with shoplifting. He represents clients in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.