Theft Defense Lawyer in Phoenix

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Arizona Theft Defense Attorney

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Theft crimes are aggressively prosecuted in Phoenix and in Arizona as a whole. The consequences for these convictions are drastic, and all accusations must be taken seriously. As an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer, Belén Olmedo Guerra understands the specialized circumstances surrounding the preparation and defense of a theft charge and has the courtroom experience and skill required to stand up against the state on your behalf. If you’ve been accused of a theft crime, you shouldn’t take the situation lightly. Reach out to a theft defense attorney at Belén Law Firm as soon as possible.

Arizona Theft Laws

ARS § 13-1802

Defined by Arizona’s Revised Statutes § 13-802, a person commits theft if he or she, knowingly and without lawful authority:

  1. Controls the property of another with the intent to deprive them of it;
  2. Wrongfully uses, alters, or destroys the services or property of another that was entrusted to them or otherwise places in their possession for a limited, authorized term of use;
  3. Obtains services or property of another by means of any material misrepresentation with the intent to deprive that person of it;
  4. Comes into control of lost, misplaced, or misdelivered property of another without reasonable efforts to notify the true owner;
  5. Controls property of another knowing it was stolen;
  6. Obtains services known to be available only for compensation without paying for said services;
  7. Knowingly takes control, title, use, or management of a vulnerable person’s property while acting in a position of trust with the intent to deprive them of it.

In short, theft involves knowingly taking control of another person’s property without their consent and with the intention of permanently depriving them of it. The term “theft”—sometimes known as larceny—is a broad term that can describe multiple types of theft, including shoplifting, robbery, burglary, and more. Each type of theft has its own characteristics that define it, such as the amount of goods or property stolen, the value of those stolen goods, and even sometimes how they were obtained.

Degrees of Theft Charges

Regardless of the type of theft, there is a degree of charges assigned that depends on the value of items stolen. Anything valued below $1,000 is a misdemeanor (except in cases where the property was stolen directly from another’s person or if the item stolen was a firearm or an animal intended for animal fighting), while anything valued above $1,000 is a felony. Below are the degrees of theft charges as determined by the value of stolen goods:

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor – At or less than $1,000
  • Class 6 Felony – More than $1,000 but less than $2,000
  • Class 5 Felony – More than $2,000 but less than $3,000
  • Class 4 Felony – More than $3,000 but less than $4,000
  • Class 3 Felony – More than $4,000 but less than $25,000
  • Class 2 Felony – At or more than $25,000
  •  

Types of Theft Charges

There are a number of different ways you might hear someone describe theft. Below are some of the more common types of theft charges and what they each entail.

Petty Theft 

Petty theft is essentially another word to describe misdemeanor theft in Arizona. This means it falls into the category of a Class 1 misdemeanor and involves stolen property or services valued equal to or less than $1,000. 

Shoplifting

As found in ARS § 13-1805, shoplifting in Arizona requires that a person knowingly conceal merchandise without paying for it, either on their person or by using an instrument or container of some sort, and leaves the premises without any intention to pay. 

Organized Retail Theft

Organized retail theft is similar to shoplifting, but instead of keeping the stolen merchandise for themselves, the perpetrator intends to resell or trade it for proceeds, according to ARS § 13-1819. This type of theft may also include the use of any artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to remove the stolen merchandise from the premises.

Grand Larceny

The word larceny is interchangeable with the word theft, meaning grand theft and grand larceny are essentially the same type of crime. This simply entails that the value of items stolen exceeds $1,000, meaning the penalties are greater than those for a misdemeanor or petty theft.

Burglary

ARS § 13-1508 defines the crime of burglary in Arizona as a perpetrator unlawfully entering and remaining on the property/premises of another, whether it be commercial or residential, with the intent to commit theft or any other type of felony therein. 

Robbery

According to ARS § 13-1902, robbery occurs when a person takes the property of another from him or her, either on their person or in their immediate presence, against said person’s will. The act typically involves threats or force of some kind with the intention of coercing the surrender of property or otherwise preventing any resistance to obstruct them from taking the property. When a firearm or other dangerous weapon is involved (armed robbery) the charge increases to aggravated robbery. Other aggravating factors include the act involving grievous bodily harm to another or if one or more accomplices were present to commit the act.

Theft of Services

Theft of services means that a person obtained services that were entrusted to them or were paid for by another without paying for the services themselves.

Embezzlement

Embezzlement is defined by the state of Arizona as the theft of all or a portion of property while someone has been entrusted with monitoring or managing it. In other words, it is when an individual who has been granted authorized access to another’s property uses that access for personal gain or benefit. Embezzlement, along with things like fraud, employee theft, and certain forms of extortion, are all considered white collar crimes.

Auto Theft

Pursuant to ARS § 13-1814, auto theft is the controlling or taking of a vehicle that belongs to someone else with the intent to permanently deprive the rightful owner of said vehicle.

Penalties for Theft in Arizona

Depending on the value of the stolen property, theft crimes may lead to varying degrees of punishment if convicted. If you have a criminal history, especially if you have any prior theft convictions, the penalties will increase in severity.

Further, any theft crime may also carry civil penalties in the form of punitive damages. It’s important to note that the value of the stolen item(s) will more than likely be rewarded to the victim if it’s not returned in original condition, plus an additional fine.

Below are the penalties for first-time offenders of both misdemeanor and felony theft crimes.

Misdemeanor Theft AZ

Penalties for a first offense, Class 1 misdemeanor theft crime include:

  • Up to 6 months in jail
  • Fines of up to $2,500
  • A maximum of 3 years probation
  • Restitution for victims (repayment of stolen items or services)

 

Other penalties may include community service, treatment/counseling/education classes, house arrest, work release, and the potential suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license for crimes involving a vehicle.

Felony Theft AZ

As there are several degrees of felony theft and each one carries different penalties, we’ll include each of the corresponding sentences for first time felony theft charges below:

Class 6 Felony Theft

  • Possible probation; or
  • Anywhere between 4 months and 2 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $150,000

 

Class 5 Felony Theft

  • Possible probation; or
  • Anywhere between 6 months to up to 2.5 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $150,000

 

Class 4 Felony Theft

  • Possible probation; or
  • Anywhere between 1 year to 3.75 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $150,000

 

Class 3 Felony Theft

  • Possible probation; or
  • Anywhere between 2 years to 8.5 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $150,000

 

Class 2 Felony Theft

  • Possible probation; or
  • Anywhere between 3 to 12.5 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $150,000

 

You can find a more detailed breakdown of potential penalties via our Arizona Felony Sentencing ChartIn addition to these criminal penalties, there will also likely be other personal repercussions that can impact the rest of the defendant’s life. Some of these may include:

  • Permanent criminal record
  • Loss of professional licensure
  • Failed employment background checks
  • Difficulty obtaining employment
  • Denial of housing and/or loans
  • Loss of security clearance
  • Issues with immigration

Defenses to Theft Charges in Phoenix

There are multiple defense strategies that your Phoenix theft defense attorney may raise on your behalf depending on the specific facts of your case. Here are some of the more common defenses to theft in Arizona:

  • Unreliable investigation and insufficient evidence.
  • Lack of knowledge and/or mental state at the time of the crime.
  • Your constitutional rights were violated.
  • A case of mistaken identity or false accusations.
  • Mere presence in the vicinity of the crime but did not take part.
  • Incorrect valuation of items or services stolen.

Call an Arizona Theft Defense Attorney at Belén Law Firm for a Free Consultation Today

With every case she takes on, Phoenix theft defense attorney Belén Olmedo Guerra closely scrutinizes every piece of evidence the prosecution intends to use against her clients. Armed with a thorough understanding of each case, she drives the case towards the best possible outcome, whether that is convincing the state of Arizona to dismiss or reduce the charges against her clients or crafting a successful defense at trial. If you’ve been accused or charged with a theft crime in Arizona, contact the best Phoenix criminal defense law firm, Belén Law Firm, today at 602-715-0908 to discuss your charges. We offer free case evaluations and are available 24/7.

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