SHOPLIFTING IN ARIZONA
If you’ve been charged with shoplifting in Arizona, unfortunately you’re looking at a crime that has consequences both in court and out of court. Whether you’ve been charged with felony shoplifting or misdemeanor shoplifting, a conviction can mean jail time and will wreak havoc by implicating professional licensing, your immigration status, background checks, job opportunities and security clearances. Having the facts of your case evaluated by a trained shoplifting lawyer will provide you the best opportunity to avoid a conviction and the future collateral consequences.
Shoplifting Under A.R.S. § 13-1805
In Arizona, a person commits shoplifting if they enter a store and knowingly obtain goods with the intent to deprive the store by:
- Removing any of the goods from the immediate display and leaving without paying the purchase price; or
- Charging the purchase price of the goods to a fake person or to another person without that person’s consent; or
- Paying less than the purchase price of the goods by some trick or artifice such as altering, removing, substituting or otherwise disfiguring any label, price tag or marking; or
- Transferring the goods from one container to another; or
- Concealing the items.
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1805 shoplifting merchandise with a value of less than $1,000 is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona unless:
- The stolen item was a firearm; or
- An artifice, instrument, container, device or other article was used to commit the theft; or
- The crime was done to promote, further or assist any criminal street gang; or
- The theft took place during any continuing criminal episode (crime spree).
A violation of any of the provisions above is considered felony shoplifting in Arizona.
Penalties for Misdemeanor Shoplifting
The penalties for misdemeanor shoplifting can range dramatically based on the facts of your case, the prosecuting agency, what store the items were stolen from and your judge. For the best evaluation of the penalties you are likely to face, contact an experienced shoplifting lawyer in Arizona.
- $2,500 fine;
- 6 months in jail;
- Repayment of the value of the items stolen.
- Suspended fine.
SIDE NOTE: Diversion or deferred prosecution agreements are common in many instances and allow for your case to be dismissed.
Pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-1805, felony shoplift occurs when a misdemeanor shoplift occurs AND:
- An artifice, instrument, container, device or other article was used to commit the theft – Class 4 Felony;
- The crime was done to promote, further or assist any criminal street gang – Class 5 Felony;
- The theft took place during any continuing criminal episode (crime spree) – Class 5 Felony;
- The value of the item(s) was more than $2,000 – Class 5 Felony;
- The value of the item(s) was more than $1,000 but less than $2,000 – Class 6 Felony;
- The item(s) stolen was a firearm – Class 6 Felony.
Penalties for Felony Shoplifting
The maximum and minimum punishment that you can expect after a conviction for felony shoplifting in Arizona depends on the type or felony for which you are convicted.
Class 6 Felony
- Probation; or
- Between four months and a maximum of 2 years in prison.
Class 5 Felony
- Probation; or
- Between six months and a maximum of 2.5 years in prison.
Class 4 Felony
- Probation; or
- Between 1 and a maximum of 3.75 years in prison.
Other Shoplifting Penalties – Collateral Consequences
In addition to any penalties you may face from the courts, there are often other penalties that many people must confront. Arizona shoplifting charges have substantial collateral consequences because they are known as a “crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT).” This legal categorization means that the crime is generally considered depraved or immoral. A conviction for a CIMT offense can have consequences even greater than those some suffer through the criminal court system. Other penalties pursuant to a collateral theory include:
Professional Licenses. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, those licensed to sell securities, insurance and annuities will have to report any conviction of a theft crime. Some licenses even require that the professional report having been charged with the crime, even if the crime is later dismissed. Because the crime is a CIMT, many professionals are required to report to licensing boards, charges and convictions for crimes that constitute legally immoral behavior.
Immigration. As discussed above, shoplifting carries a CIMT distinction and create problems in immigration. Under 8 U.S.C. § 1251(a)(2)(a)(i), convictions for theft are normally a deportable offense depending on the applicant, the time frame and the exact crime for which you are found guilty.
Employment Background Checks. Many major corporations, including major retailers, won’t even let you operate a cash register if you’ve been convicted of a theft crime.
Security Clearance. Government clearance needed for certain government positions as well as employers that contract work with the state and federal agencies generally require a crime-free background.
DPS Fingerprint Clearance Card. A conviction can result in the suspension of your DPS fingerprint card. However, a good cause exception may be available.
Housing and Loans. Many lenders are unwilling to lend to those convicted of certain theft crimes. A conviction for felony shoplifting will normally have to be reported on a mortgage application, student loan affidavit and all Small Business Association loans which will normally result in denial of the application for the prescribed period.
Shoplifting Defense Strategy
Developing a shoplifting defense strategy is paramount to getting your case dismissed or reduced. The defenses that you may want to raise will depend on the specific facts of your case. However, some of the more common defenses include:
Unreliable Investigation and Evidence. This involves attacking the quality of the police’s investigation and the reliability of the evidence used against you. Your attorney should consider attacking what evidence was preserved and not preserved, the quality of the witnesses, the witness statements, the valuation of the items or services allegedly stolen, as well as the quality of the police reports and record keeping.
Knowledge and Mental State. In Arizona shoplifting cases, the prosecution must prove that concealed of left the store with the “intent” of not paying or keeping the items. Attacking the ability to prove your knowledge, motive and mental state can help to reduce or dismiss charges.
Mistaken Identity. If you are charged with a crime on the basis of eyewitness identification, then you will want to look into attacking the eyewitness’s testimony. Eyewitness testimony has been shown to be one of the most unreliable types of evidence. Other times, suggestive photo lineups and mistaken identification in video leads to wrongful arrests.
Mere Presence. If you were simply at a store when a crime was being committed, then you may want to raise a mere presence defense. If you were merely present at the crime scene, then you did not have any criminal intent and did not take part in the crime.
Constitutional Challenges. Your attorney may also raise defenses by way of Constitutional legal challenges including: Miranda Violations, illegal search and seizure violations and right to counsel violations.
Item Value. Because the Arizona shoplifting definition requires that the prosecution prove a specific dollar amount, you can often be successful in arguing a reduced value of the item or service stolen.
Diversion Agreement. Diversion agreements, or deferred prosecution agreements are plea agreements that allow your case to be dismissed after you have successfully completed some type of requirement such as repaying the value of the item, attending classes or completing community service.
Misdemeanor Compromise. For misdemeanor Arizona shoplifting charges, there is a way for a person to engage in a civil compromise. Although often left unexplored, a misdemeanor compromise pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3981 is an excellent way to avoid jail time, reduce fines and have your case dismissed.
Example. You are accused of stealing a pack of gum from a pharmacy. If the corporation agrees, you can simply pay money for the pack of gum in exchange for the criminal case being dismissed. It is important to note, however, when you have been accused of a crime, you are generally forbidden from making contact with the victim (store). As such, misdemeanor compromises must be handled by an experienced shoplifting lawyer, judges or the victim advocate. Simply contacting the victim and asking to buy our way out of a crime may constitute witness tampering.
Experienced Shoplifting Lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona
At Feldman and Royle, we understand that every case is different. We are a team of defense attorneys with experience handling both felony and misdemeanor shoplifting and theft cases. Please contact us for a free initial consultation in order to further discuss the circumstances of your case and find out how we can help you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is there any way to get my shoplifting case dismissed?
- Having your shoplifting case dismissed in Arizona can only be accomplished by:
- Having the prosecution agree to dismiss the case;
- Having a jury find you not guilty at trial;
- Entering a diversion or deferred prosecution agreement;
- Executing a misdemeanor compromise pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3981.
Shoplifting vs Theft, what’s the difference?
- In essence, shoplifting is a theft. The difference is that shoplifting is a theft from a store where merchandise is displayed for sale.