According to a report compiled by the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS) concerning crime in 2019, theft—or what is also called larceny—accounted for 63.4 percent of all crimes in the state, with 122,597 thefts being reported and 27,205 individuals being arrested. Shoplifting accounted for one-third of the theft reports, with the total value of all reported thefts amounting to $64.87 million.
Theft in Arizona can be charged as a “petty theft” misdemeanor if the value of the goods stolen is under $1,000, or as a felony—also called “grand theft”—if the value is greater than $1,000. Felony penalties can include incarceration, but even with a suspended sentence and probation, someone convicted of theft will carry a criminal record with them that can haunt them their entire life.
If you’re under investigation for theft or have already been charged in or around Scottsdale, Arizona, including the surrounding communities of Chandler, Glendale, Tempe, Phoenix and others, contact me at The Law Office of William L. Morris. Your first consultation by telephone is free, and I’m available whenever you need me.
WHAT IS THEFT IN ARIZONA?
Arizona law defines theft pursuant to A.R.S. 13-1802 as:
A. A person commits theft if, without lawful authority, the person knowingly:
1. Controls property of another with the intent to deprive the other person of such property; or
2. Converts for an unauthorized term or use services or property of another entrusted to the defendant or placed in the defendant’s possession for a limited, authorized term or use; or
3. Obtains services or property of another by means of any material misrepresentation with intent to deprive the other person of such property or services; or
4. Comes into control of lost, mislaid or misdelivered property of another under circumstances providing means of inquiry as to the true owner and appropriates such property to the person’s own or another’s use without reasonable efforts to notify the true owner; or
5. Controls property of another knowing or having reason to know that the property was stolen; or
6. Obtains services known to the defendant to be available only for compensation without paying or an agreement to pay the compensation or diverts another’s services to the person’s own or another’s benefit without authority to do so; or
7. Controls the ferrous metal or nonferrous metal of another with the intent to deprive the other person of the metal; or
8. Controls the ferrous metal or nonferrous metal of another knowing or having reason to know that the metal was stolen; or
9. Purchases within the scope of the ordinary course of business the ferrous metal or nonferrous metal of another person knowing that the metal was stolen.
B. A person commits theft if, without lawful authority, the person knowingly takes control, title, use or management of a vulnerable adult’s property while acting in a position of trust and confidence and with the intent to deprive the vulnerable adult of the property. Proof that a person took control, title, use or management of a vulnerable adult’s property without adequate consideration to the vulnerable adult may give rise to an inference that the person intended to deprive the vulnerable adult of the property.
Arizona law also criminalizes the “control” of someone else’s property that has been “lost, mislaid or misdelivered.” If you get a package delivered to your house by mistake and keep it, you have thus committed theft.
The code also criminalizes the retention of services of goods entrusted to you on a temporary basis but which you refuse to return or use misrepresentation to deprive the other person of. In other words, if it doesn’t belong to you but you keep it anyway, that falls under the definition of theft.
PENALTIES FOR THEFT IN ARIZONA
If you commit petty theft of something valued at less than $1,000, you will face a misdemeanor charge. The penalty for petty theft is 0 days to 6 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, restitution of the stolen item or services, probation of up to 3 years, and possible mandatory classes. The statute of limitations for filing a petty theft misdemeanor charge is one year.
Above $1,000 in value, the crime becomes a felony. At the lowest felony level when the theft is valued between $1,000 and $2,000, you will likely face probation but could also end up being locked up for 4 months to 2 years. When the value is above $25,000 but below $100,000, you could face probation or up to 8.5 years in prison. Above $100,000 and prison time is mandatory, and the term maxes out at 12.5 years. The statute of limitations for grand theft is seven years.
Of course, restitution, fines, community services and mandatory classes are also often part of felony penalties.
DEFENSES AGAINST A THEFT CHARGE
As with any criminal charge, police and prosecutors must respect your rights under the Constitution regarding reading you your Miranda Rights and having probable cause to arrest you in the first place, as well as conducting legal searches and seizures. All of these procedural requirements can be challenged in court. If police lacked probable cause to arrest you, failed to read you your rights prior to questioning, or searched your home without lawful authority, the case could possibly be thrown out.
Other defenses include:
Mistaken Identity: If you’re been singled out from a lineup, whether in person, or in a photo or video, mistaken identity can be brought into question. Eyewitness testimony is often inaccurate.
Knowledge and Mental State: You and your attorney can argue that you did not knowingly take the goods or services in question, or that you lacked the mental state or motive to knowingly deprive another of their goods or services.
Present But Not Involved: Perhaps you were present with others when a theft took place but you were not the perpetrator. You got singled out mistakenly.
Value of Goods or Services Involved: You and your attorney can argue over the value of the goods or services involved in the theft. While this may not prevent a conviction, it can lead to a lesser charge and more lenient penalties.
HOW LEGAL COUNSEL CAN HELP
You will need the aid of an experienced Scottsdale, Arizona criminal defense attorney to strategize with you for the best possible outcome if you’ve been charged with a theft crime. Public defenders, no matter how well-intentioned or educated, simply have too large a caseload to devote the time necessary to develop a solid defense. Often, they will opt for the first plea bargain available rather than negotiating a more favorable plea offer and/or rather than going through a jury trial. You may get a lesser charge and lesser set of penalties, but you will still walk away with a conviction and criminal record.
THEFT DEFENSE ATTORNEY IN SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA
If you’re facing petty or grand theft charges in Arizona, call me immediately at The Law Office of William L. Morris. I will work tirelessly to get your charges lowered or dismissed, and if we do go to trial, I will develop a strong defense strategy aimed at obtaining the best possible outcome. I proudly serve clients in and around Scottsdale, Arizona, including all neighboring cities and communities like Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, Gilbert, Chandler, Glendale, Surprise and Peoria.
WE’RE READY TO START DEFENDING YOU.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today.