Theft charges in Arizona may fall under many different possible offenses.  For a variety of reasons, the legislature has moved beyond simply burglary and theft, the classic offenses, and added many more. But what are the differences between these?

In this article, we will discuss the different types of theft charges, how they are determined, what are the penalties for theft and of course why it is imperative to have an aggressive Phoenix theft attorney representing you. First, we will begin with discussing the most common charge, theft.

Theft Charges in Arizona

Theft is by far the most common way to charge a person with a crime for taking the property of another person. Theft, covered by ARS 13-1802, requires the State to prove that without lawful authority, a person knowingly did one of the following things:

 

  • Controlled the property of another with the intent to deprive them of its use;
  • Converted for an authorized term or used services or property of another person entrusted to them or placed in their possession for a limited use;
  • Obtained services or property of another through material misrepresentation with the intent to deprive them of the property or services;
  • Controlled lost, mislaid, or misdeliverd property of another under circumstances providing an ability to inquire as to the true owner, and appropriated control over such property to their own, or another’s, use without reasonable efforts to notify the true owner;
  • Controlled property of another knowing or having reason to know the property was stolen;
  • Obtaining services known to the defendant to be available only for compensation without paying for them or agreeing to pay, or diverting another’s services to one’s own or another’s benefit without authority;
  • Controlling metal of another person with the intent to deprive them of the metal;
  • Controlling metal of another person knowing or having reason to know the metal was stolen;
  • Purchasing metal knowing the metal was stolen;
  • Controlling title, use, or management of a vulnerable adult’s property while acting in a position of trust and confidence with the intent to deprive the vulnerable adult of the property

Breakdown of Levels of Theft Charges

The kind of punishment one faces depends on the value of the property. If the theft or services are worth $25,000 or more, then the Theft is a Class 2 Felony. If the value was $4,000 or more but less than $25,000, then the Theft is a Class 3 Felony. If the value was $3,000 or more but less than $4,000, then the Theft is a Class 4 Felony. 

Additionally, If the value was $2,000 or more but less than $3,000, then the Theft is a Class 5 Felony. If the value is $1,000 or more but less than $2,000, then the Theft is a Class 6 Felony. Theft of property or services valued at less than $1,000 is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

 

Value of the Property or Services Classification of Offenses
$25,000 + Class 2 Felony
$4,000 – $24,999.99 Class 3 Felony
$3,000 – $3,999.99 Class 4 Felony
$2,000 – $2,999.99 Class 5 Felony
$1,000 – $1,999.99 Class 6 Felony
Less than $1,000 Class 1 Misdemeanor

 

Sentencing laws are a complicated topic on their own, but in general, a first-time offender for the felonies is facing the following punishment:

  • Class 2 Felony – 3-12.5 years in prison, or up to 7 years of probation
  • Class 3 Felony – 2-8.75 years in prison, or up to 5 years of probation
  • Class 4 Felony – 1-3.75 years in prison, or up to 4 years of probation
  • Class 5 Felony – 0.5-2.5 years in prison, or up to 3 years of probation
  • Class 6 Felony – 0.33-2 years in prison, or up to 3 years of probation.

All of these felonies remain on your record for life, which creates significant secondary consequences as well, like inability to obtain licenses, loans, housing, jobs, and more. They also carry a possible fine of up to $150,000 plus surcharge. In addition, if convicted, you may be required to pay restitution.

All of these felonies remain on your record for life, which creates significant secondary consequences

A Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft carries a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail, up to 3 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $2,500 plus surcharges. In addition, restitution may be required.

All the felony ranges can increase based on a defendant’s criminal history.

Finally, if the value of the property is $100,000 or more, and a person either controls the property with the intent to deprive or obtains it through material misrepresentation, then the punishment must be to prison, with probation not available.

Shoplifting Charges

Committing a Theft from a store can lead to charges of Shoplifting instead of Theft. Shoplifting, controlled by ARS 13-1805, requires proof that a person, while in an establishment in which merchandise is displayed for sale, knowingly obtained the goods of another with the intent to deprive them of the goods by doing any of the following:

  • Removing the goods from the immediate display without paying for them;
  • Charging the purchase price to a fictitious person or any person without that person’s authority;
  • Paying less than the purchase price by some trick of artifice – e.g. changing the price tag;
  • Transferring the goods from one container to another; or
  • Concealment

As with Theft, the value of the goods taken is important, as is what the goods are and how they were taken:

 

Value of the Property or Type of Goods or Manner of Taking Classification of Offenses
$2,000 or more; or Continuing Criminal Episode (value of $1,500 or more if committed during at least three separate incidences within 90 consecutive days) Class 5 Felony
$1,000 – $1,999.99 Class 6 Felony
Less than $1,000 Class 1 Misdemeanor
Less than $1,000 but a firearm Class 6 Felony
Using an artifice, any value Class 4 Felony
Less than $1,000 Class 1 Misdemeanor

 

In general, a first-time offender would face the following punishments for these offenses:

  • Class 4 Felony – 1-3.75 years in prison, or up to 4 years of probation; maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.
  • Class 5 Felony – 0.5-2.5 years in prison, or up to 3 years of probation; maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.
  • Class 6 Felony – 0.33-2 years in prison, or up to 3 years of probation; maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.
  • Class 1 Misdemeanor – maximum 6 months in jail, up to $2,500 plus surcharges, 3 years probation.

If you have prior felony convictions then you may face harsher penalties.

Robbery Charges

Robbery is the crime, described in ARS 13-1902, that happens when a person commits a Theft from another person by force or threat of force. To be convicted, the State must prove that a defendant, during the course of taking property of another person, used force or threat of force against that person with the intent to coerce the surrender of the property, or to prevent resistance to the taking of the property.

Unlike with Theft or Shoplifting, the classification of Robbery is not dependent on the value of the property.  

Robbery, in violation of ARS 13-1902, is a Class 4 Felony, and a first-offense carries a potential prison sentence of 1 to 3.75 years in prison, or up to 4 years of probation, with a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges. Having prior felony convictions can lead to harsher sentencing and mandatory prison.

Felony Armed Robbery Charges

If a person committing a Robbery, or their accomplice, is armed with a deadly weapon, a simulated deadly weapon, or uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon, dangerous instrument, or a simulated deadly weapon, then they can be charged with Armed Robbery, in violation of ARS 13-1904

Armed Robbery is a Class 2 Felony and carries a potential prison range of 3 to 12.5 years in prison, or up to 7 years of probation, along with a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.

Armed Robbery is a Class 2 Felony and carries a potential prison range of 3 to 12.5 years in prison

The State can also charge Armed Robbery as a Dangerous offense, if a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument was used, as opposed to a simulated deadly weapon, then probation is not available and the possible prison range is 7 to 21 years. Prior felony convictions can increase the sentencing ranges.

Felony Aggravated Robbery Charges

If a person commits a Robbery while being aided by one or more accomplices then they can be charged with Aggravated Robbery, in violation of ARS 13-1903

Aggravated Robbery is a Class 3 Felony, and a person faces 2 to 8.75 years in prison, up to 5 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges. As always, prior felony convictions can lead to harsher sentences.

Burglary Charges

Burglary in Arizona is divided into three degrees, each of which carries a different potential sentence.

Burglary in the Third Degree

ARS 13-1506 covers Burglary in the Third Degree. To be convicted thereof, the State must prove that a person entered or remained unlawfully in or on a non-residential structure, or in a fenced commercial yard or residential yard, with the intent to commit any theft or felony therein. 

The State can also try and prove that a defendant made entry into a motor vehicle by use of a manipulation key or master key, with the intent to commit a theft or felony in the motor vehicle.

Burglary in the Third Degree is a Class 4 Felony and carries a potential prison range of 1 to 3.75 years, up to 4 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges. Sentencing is harsher if the State proves prior felony convictions.

Burglary in the Second Degree

If a person enters or remains unlawfully in a residential structure with the intent to commit any theft or felony within that structure, then they can be charged with Burglary in the Second Degree, pursuant to ARS 13-1507.  

Burglary in the Second Degree is a Class 3 Felony and a person faces 2 to 8.75 years in prison, up to 5 years of probation, and a maximum fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.

Burglary in the First Degree

If a person commits either Burglary in the Second Degree or Third Degree while knowingly possessing explosives, a deadly weapon, or a dangerous instrument in the course of committing any felony or theft, then they can be charged with Burglary in the First Degree. 

Burglary in the First Degree is a Class 3 felony if the location is a non-residential structure or fenced commercial or residential yard, and a Class 2 Felony if it is a residential structure.

Because the offense involves the use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, the State can allege that it was a Dangerous Felony. If they do so, probation is not available, and if facing a Class 2 Felony one is looking at 7-21 years in prison, and 5-15 years in prison for a Class 3 Felony. 

If such an allegation is not made, then a defendant faces 3-12.5 years in prison for a Class 2 Felony, or up to 7 years of probation, and 2-8.75 years in prison for a Class 3 Felony, or up to 5 years of probation. The maximum fine for any felony is $150,000 plus surcharges.

Defenses for Theft, Shoplifting, Robbery, and Burglary

While each case requires a careful evaluation to determine what defenses apply, the aggressive criminal defense attorneys at Gurion Legal can look to exploit weaknesses in the State’s case to get you the best possible outcome if you are charged with Theft, Shoplifting, Robbery, and Burglary.

Some common legal defenses include:

  • Illegal search and seizure
  • Violation of Miranda rights
  • Involuntarily made statements
  • Challenging grand jury presentations

Other defenses can be factual and include:

  • Incorrect value of the items taken
  • Lack of required mental state
  • Alibi
  • Mistaken Identity

The best way to start on your defense is to speak with an attorney. Call or contact Gurion Legal today so that we can get started on crafting a defense that will work for your specific case.

Theft Charges In Arizona

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