Tempe, known as Hayden's Ferry many years ago, is a city located in Maricopa County, Arizona. In 2010, it had a population of 161,719. Top employers include Arizona State University, Maricopa Community College District, Safeway, and Wells Fargo. The most common crime in Tempe in 2012 (and over the previous decade) was larceny, with 6,099 such incidents reported out of 8,761 crimes overall. If you are charged with larceny or another theft crime, it is important to have a knowledgeable Tempe criminal defense attorney like James Novak on your side.

Theft in Arizona

Theft in Arizona includes shoplifting, larceny, forgery, fraud, embezzlement, and stealing cars. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) sections 13-1801 and 13-1802, you can be convicted of theft if you control someone else's property with the intent to deprive him of it, if you convert someone else's property when it was entrusted to you, if you obtain property or services by materially misrepresenting facts with the intent of depriving someone of his property or services, if you find lost property and appropriate it without trying to notify the owner, and under several other circumstances.

Stealing property or services worth $25,000 or more is a class 2 felony (the most serious type of larceny). If you are accused of stealing property or services worth between $4,000 and $25,000, it will be charged as a class 3 felony. Stealing property or services between $3,000 and $4,000 is a class 4 felony. Theft of a vehicle engine or transmission is always a class 4 felony, whether the engine or transmission is worth more or less than $4,000. Theft of property or services worth between $2,000 and $3,000 is a class 5 felony. Stealing property or services worth $1,000 to $2,000 is a class 6 felony.

Any theft of property or services worth less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor, except for firearms or animals taken for animal fighting. In Arizona, if more than one piece of property is taken in a single course of conduct, the state can choose to aggregate the amounts, even if the property was stolen from more than one person.

Laws Protecting Vulnerable Populations

Arizona offers explicit theft protection to vulnerable adults who may be subject to manipulation or abuse of trust by someone caring for them. This includes elderly adults and adults with serious disabilities or health conditions like Down's Syndrome or Alzheimer's. Under A.R.S. section 13-1802B, you can be charged with theft for taking control, title, use or management of a "vulnerable adult's" property while in acting in a position of trust with that person and with the intent of depriving the vulnerable adult of the property.

There are several affirmative defenses to theft charges in Arizona when a vulnerable person is alleged to be the victim. An "affirmative defense" admits that you took the property, but asserts that there were valid reasons for taking it. For example, a criminal defense attorney can argue that you received a gift that was consistent with gift giving from the vulnerable adult before the vulnerability existed. This would be applicable where a young person takes care of a grandparent who has Alzheimer's, and has been given a very valuable heirloom by the grandparent. If the grandparent has given him gifts his entire life, he can potentially raise an affirmative defense related to this history of gift giving.

Experience When You Need it Most

There are many possible procedural and substantive defenses to theft. If you have been charged with a property crime or other offense, knowledgeable Tempe criminal defense lawyer James Novak can investigate the facts of a search or arrest to determine weaknesses in the prosecution's case, and determine what other defenses may be available. Contact our office today at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form to schedule your free consultation.