Phoenix Shoplifting Lawyer
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Phoenix Shoplifting Defense Attorney
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Phoenix Shoplifting Lawyer
If you were recently arrested for shoplifting or if you’re currently facing shoplifting charges in Phoenix, Arizona, the state won’t hesitate to start building the case against you.
In Arizona, you can receive shoplifting charges for various forms of conduct involving theft. The most basic allegation is that the person was stealing merchandise from a brick-and-mortar store. The shoplifting classification depends on the total value of the merchandise in question, the type of shoplifting, and the alleged shoplifter’s criminal history.
If you were caught or accused of shoplifting in Phoenix, contact Belén Olmedo Guerra, an experienced Phoenix shoplifting lawyer, for a free consultation today. You can do so by calling 602-715-0908 or completing the online intake form found here.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Attorney for Shoplifting Charges in Phoenix, AZ?
The penalties for shoplifting in Phoenix vary depending on the value of the item or items stolen, as well as various circumstances surrounding the theft crime. These specific factors will determine whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
While many consider shoplifting as a ‘smaller’ theft crime, shoplifting in Arizona is still a serious criminal offense. The penalties for shoplifting are potentially harsh and have the ability to seriously impact your future, especially if you’ve previously incurred criminal charges.
Because petty theft is such a big issue for this state, shoplifting is one of the most commonly prosecuted criminal offenses. At Belén Law Firm, we provide a strong defense for those facing shoplifting charges and other theft charges in Arizona. We take aggressive action to avoid conviction and preserve our client’s rights and freedom.
Arizona Shoplifting Statute: ARS 13-1805
In Arizona shoplifting cases, when a defendant conceals or attempts to conceal merchandise without paying for it, or when a defendant uses a container, device, instrument, or clothing article to cover merchandise, the defendant attempted to shoplift. More specifically, Arizona’s shoplifting statute (ARS 13-1805) defines the following as shoplifting:
- Removing merchandise from a store without paying for it
- Purchasing merchandise under the name of a fictitious person
- Purchasing merchandise using another person’s account without permission
- Charging someone else’s account without that person’s authority
- Paying less than the purchase price by changing price tags or hiding the merchandise so that the retailer loses profit by selling the merchandise under retail value
- Moving the merchandise from one container to another
While these are all considered shoplifting under AZ state law, this presumption can be rebutted in court. This is where an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, as your attorney can present the jury with evidence that you never intended to steal the goods.
Additionally, according to Arizona case law, defendants are entitled to a jury trial for shoplifting charges. Time constraints of a jury trial can be used as leverage in negotiations in certain cases. More often than not, prosecutors have large caseloads and only have a limited amount of time, so they’ll want to avoid a jury trial if at all possible.
Shoplifting vs Other Theft Crimes
The difference between shoplifting and other forms of theft, such as robbery, is the way in which the merchandise is taken. Typically, a shoplifting offense comes about when a person tries to secretly remove an item from a grocery or retail store. In contrast, robbery involves the use of threats or force to take something from someone against his or her will.
If convicted of robbery in Arizona, a person can face up to 3.75 years in prison. If a person uses a weapon to carry out a robbery in Arizona, the offense becomes a Class 2 felony, or ‘dangerous’ felony and carries a punishment of up to 21 years in prison.
Arizona Shoplifting Penalties
The penalties for shoplifting in Arizona depend on the value of the item stolen as well as other related circumstances.
Shoplifting Property Valued Less Than $1000 in Arizona
If the item or items in question were worth less than $1,000 and there were no other contributing factors, then this theft crime is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor in the state of Arizona. If convicted, the shoplifter can receive a punishment for up to six months in jail and a fine of $2,500.
Shoplifting Property Valued Between $1,001 and $2,000 in Arizona
If the item or items in question were valued above $1,000 but less than $2,000 and there are no other contributing factors, this is considered a Class 6 felony in Arizona. If convicted of a class 6 felony, shoplifters can receive a punishment of 18 months in prison as well as additional steep fines.
Shoplifting Property Valued Above $2,000 in Arizona
If the item or items in question were worth over $2,000, the theft crime is considered a Class 5 felony in the state of Arizona. If convicted, the shoplifter can face up to 2 years in prison as well as steep fines.
Continuing Criminal Episode in Arizona
A continuing criminal episode means that the shoplifter had been involved in three or more thefts within the past 90 days and took at least $500 worth of merchandise. A continuing criminal episode is a Class 5 felony in Arizona, and, if convicted, the shoplifter can face up to 2 years in prison and steep fines.
Theft to Assist a Criminal Street Gang in Arizona
If the items in question were taken to assist a criminal street gang, the crime is also considered a Class 5 felony in Arizona.
This type of felony conviction carries up to 2 years of jail time as well as additional fines.
Shoplifting a Firearm in Arizona
Even if the firearm is worth less than $1,000, theft of a firearm is considered a Class 6 felony in Arizona.
Aggravated Penalties for Shoplifting in Arizona
The previous penalties operated under the assumption that the shoplifting offense in question was a first offense. However, if a person has two or more convictions for crimes including shoplifting, robbery, burglary, or theft within the past 5 years, the offense changes to a Class 4 felony in Arizona. In Arizona, Class 4 felonies carry a punishment of up to 3 years in prison.
Alternative Shoplifting Misdemeanor Penalties in Arizona
If you’re charged with a misdemeanor for shoplifting in Arizona, you might be able to avoid jail time and fines. However, it’s important to note that the following alternatives are not available to everyone, even if you meet the qualifications. The prosecutor involved in your shoplifting case must agree to the alternatives during the plea negotiations. As such, neither of the following are considered a “right.”
Obtaining professional legal counsel is the best way to avoid more serious consequences if you’re held criminally responsible for shoplifting in Phoenix, Arizona.
In some cases, the court may order you to perform community service. The amount of time needed to complete the community service for shoplifting depends on your defense attorney’s ability to negotiate your plea agreement and the specifics surrounding your charges.
Another alternative option could include attending a Diversion Program. This is a form of rehabilitation. The option to complete the Diversion Program is extremely beneficial for those convicted of shoplifting in Arizona because once completed, the offense is off of your criminal record.
In order to be considered for the Diversion Program, you must not have a criminal record. This means that this must be your first offense. Additionally, you must be over 15 years old and you could not have used any weapons in carrying out your shoplifting (meaning no armed robbery).
For those accused of organized retail theft, the Diversion Program may not be an option for them.
The city of Phoenix, Arizona has a specific Diversion Program specifically designed for shoplifters in Maricopa County. During the Phoenix Diversion Program, shoplifters will learn how shoplifting affects both small and large business owners, their families, and the community as a whole.
Shopkeeper’s Privilege in Arizona
Most of the time, it is completely illegal to hold anyone against his or her will. However, the state of Arizona has a loophole for store owners.
If a store owner or store employee suspects that you are shoplifting in their store, he or she may hold you there until police arrive. However, in order for them to lawfully detain a shopper, they must have a reasonable cause for doing so. They cannot hold you in the store simply because you look guilty to them.
Furthermore, the shopkeeper’s privilege only allows businesses to carry this out in a reasonable manner and hold alleged shoplifters for a reasonable amount of time. While this is obviously open to interpretation, if the storeowner or employee uses excessive force or delays calling the police, you may be able to have your shoplifting charges dropped altogether.
Arizona Shoplifting Defenses
In order to be found guilty of shoplifting in Arizona, the prosecutor must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. If you retain help from an experienced criminal law office, you will have a better chance of applying the following defenses to your criminal case:
Lack of Intent
In order to move forward with any criminal offense trial, the prosecution must show there was an intent or motive. Shoppers aren’t employees and aren’t responsible for putting merchandise back exactly where they found it. It isn’t a crime to accidentally put something back in the wrong place.
Additionally, if another person changed the price tags on the items you planned to purchase and you had no idea this was previously done, this isn’t a crime.
Violation of Rights
You may also be able to get out of criminal charges due to a technicality. For example, if the arresting officer failed to read your Miranda rights when they arrested you, or if the arresting officer denied your request to speak with a criminal defense lawyer, this can be cause for dismissal.
Your rights may also have been violated if you were held for an unreasonable amount of time. Again, this timeframe is open to interpretation. If you were searched without probable cause, this is also a violation of your civil rights.
Another example is if you were under the age of 18 and the arresting officer questioned you before contacting your legal guardian. In this case, you may also have your charges dropped. A Phoenix criminal defense attorney like those at Belén Law Firm can evaluate the specifics of your case and let you know whether or not your rights were violated and what the best course of action will be.
Phoenix Shoplifting Defense Lawyer
Regardless of what you’re accused of, you have the right to professional representation. The minute you’re arrested and taken into custody, you should ask for a criminal defense attorney BEFORE speaking about your alleged offense with the arresting officers. This helps to ensure that you have the best chance of success. Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential, so speaking with an attorney is never an “admission of guilt”.
Belén Olmedo Guerra is a compassionate and aggressive criminal defense attorney that strives to protect the rights of those accused of crimes in Phoenix, Arizona. She’s successfully defended those facing criminal charges, helped many avoid their maximum sentence, and even helped many have their charges dropped altogether.
If you’re facing criminal charges for shoplifting or any other criminal offense in Arizona, call our office for a free and confidential consultation ASAP.