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Grand Theft

Facing theft accusations can attract severe penalties, such as incarceration or probation. These penalties affect your liberty and future access to opportunities. Based on this, you need to understand the elements of crime related to grand theft and the possible counterarguments to present.

When building your defenses, consider working closely with a criminal attorney who understands the nature of your case and possible strong defenses. Their input increases your chances of a favorable outcome, especially if they are experienced in the field. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, you receive quality criminal defense services to increase your chances of a good result. Our services are available for clients facing grand theft charges in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Nature of Grand Theft Offenses in Arizona

Theft crimes fall into various categories, depending on the elements of crime associated with your case. Based on this, you should understand the different legal provisions of a grand theft offense. ARS § 13-1802 forms the primary reference point for theft crimes in the state, making it essential to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements.

After arrest for suspected theft, the prosecutor assigns a charge to your case based on the value of the property you allegedly stole. Based on this, a grand theft charge only applies if you stole goods above $25,000, warranting a full trial pending sentencing.

Nevertheless, you are also subject to the felony and misdemeanor sentence classifications under the statutory provisions based on the value of stolen property. If the value is below $500, misdemeanor charges apply, while values between $1000 and $25000 fall within the felony category.

Your criminal defense attorney will also inform you about the variations in theft crime charges, as each case presents unique circumstances. For example, committing theft by fraud encompasses different elements, from using force to threats.

Once arrested, the prosecutor prepares their case against you by assessing your investigation reports and sourcing evidence against you. Within a few weeks, you will receive a hearing date within which you must prepare your defenses.

Elements of Crime for the Prosecutor to Prove

Once the prosecutor takes over your case, they must prepare a compelling argument against you to persuade the judge and jury of your guilt. They undertake this role because they bear the burden of proof to demonstrate your guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

Additionally, the standard of proof requires them to provide highly persuasive evidence to prevent the possibility of reasonable doubt. Leaving room for doubt infers that you may be innocent and are more likely to receive an acquittal if the judge does not support the prosecutor’s position.

Based on this, you should also understand the essential elements of crime related to theft charges to help you navigate the hearing process. Your criminal defense attorney will guide you through the provisions of Section 13-1802 A of the Arizona Revised Statutes, which elaborates on the essential elements of a theft crime.

With this information, you are in a better position to raise strong defenses. The following are the main elements for the prosecutor to prove:

You Moved Someone’s Property

Moving someone’s property indicates that you have control over it. The prosecutor relies on this crime element to demonstrate that you handled another’s property without their permission, resulting in a theft accusation.

You can expect the prosecutor to prepare evidence to show that you moved the property in question by transporting it to a different place to keep it from the rightful owner. They often collaborate with the investigation officers to source the required evidence. Based on this, working closely with an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to helping you keep up with your legal obligations.

When handling this crime element, the judge may accept the prosecutor’s argument even if you only moved the property briefly from its initial position. The reasoning is that moving the property shows that you controlled it and chose to keep it from the owner.

Moving the property may also involve sending someone to displace it on your behalf. If so, you may face a joint charge with your accomplice, depending on how involved they were in accessing the property.

Examples of evidential sources to expect from the prosecutor include surveillance footage that shows you moving the property. Witness testimonies are also admissible, provided the prosecutor can verify them as truthful to the best of their ability. Some cases may include evidential sources like location tracking on the stolen item.

You Were in Possession of the Property

The prosecutor must also demonstrate that you had the stolen property to establish control over it further. Possession involves having the property in question on your body or inside an environment you control.

For example, if the arresting officers retrieve the property in your car, you still possess it to present a case against you. This is true, especially if you control the vehicle, which translates to possession. Additionally, if the police conduct a search and seizure to retrieve the property from your body, they can make the same claim to persuade the judge of your guilt.

Examples of useful evidential sources that the prosecutor may rely on include surveillance footage that shows you had the item in question on you. Further, police reports detailing the circumstances of your case are relevant, as they provide a certified source of information on the theft. Witness testimonies and photographs showing that you took the property are also admissible evidence.

The Property Value Meets the Grand Theft Category of Crime

Since you will be facing grand theft charges, the prosecutor must also establish that the property in question meets the threshold for grand theft charges. According to Arizona Revised Statutes, the threshold currently lies at $1,000, so the prosecutor must ensure their argument aligns.

They do this by gathering evidence on the standard market value for the stolen goods or requesting the rightful owner to present evidence of what the goods are worth.

The prosecution team may also contact expert witnesses to provide testimony and evidence on the estimated property value. They do this if the market value and other reference sources are still being determined, making it essential to conduct a professional assessment.

Although the professional may be the prosecutor’s witness, they should remain neutral and provide objective details on the property's value. You can request that your criminal defense attorney raise a concern if you genuinely believe the expert opinion to be biased, allowing you access to a fair hearing.

You Intended to Deprive Them of Possession Permanently

Theft crimes must also include the intention to permanently deprive the rightful owner of their possession. You can, therefore, expect the prosecutor to emphasize this element by sourcing multiple sources, including circumstantial evidence.

Establishing that you intend to deprive the owner of their property permanently is essential because it encompasses one of the two crucial criminal elements that must exist pending conviction, known as the mens rea.

Examples of evidential sources the prosecutor may rely on include your behavioral pattern moments before you stole the items in question. For example, if you waited until everyone left a building to gain access and steal valuable possessions, the prosecutor could highlight your deliberate effort to delay.

Similarly, failure to inform the rightful owner that you have their property demonstrates the criminal intention to deprive them of it permanently. The prosecutor's argument can include details to show that you intentionally withheld information, resulting in property loss.

Forms of Grand Theft

While the prosecutor must focus on the primary elements of crime related to grand theft, they must also apply them to the specific context. This implies that each case is different and warrants the prosecutor's team to consider additional forms of the crime.

Your case may, therefore, involve the following case circumstances, and the prosecutor must provide evidence in each instance. The next are possible forms of grand theft that warrant trial and possible incarceration:

Theft by False Pretenses

Pretenses involve making misrepresentations to a third party to defraud them. In many cases, pretenses include presenting yourself as a person in a vulnerable position and requesting help from the targeted party. Part of this help may include giving you access to property for which you would otherwise lack a claim.

 In court, the prosecutor must provide sufficient evidence to show that you presented false statements that would convince the innocent third party to give you the property.

For example, if you pose as someone in urgent need of cash under the guise of an emergency, the prosecutor must provide supporting sources. These include witness testimonies from parties who heard you present your case. Additionally, audio and video recordings that capture the misrepresentations are acceptable to support the prosecutor’s case.

Receiving Stolen Goods

Moreover, receiving stolen goods can warrant a grand theft charge if you know the state of the property. The primary reason for this is that accepting the goods makes you an accomplice, leaving you answerable for the goods. 

The charge applies regardless of whether you received and held the stolen goods briefly, as the rightful owner still lacks possession. Further, receiving the stolen goods and retaining them for use may attract harsher penalties if the prosecutor’s case is successful.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor may be more lenient if they lack sufficient evidence to show that you were aware of the stolen nature of the goods.

Enjoying Benefits from Stolen Goods

Another possible charge associated with grand theft is illegally enjoying the benefits of stolen goods. Enjoying benefits may involve different case circumstances, so the prosecutor must highlight the specifics of your case for a compelling argument.

Since every case presents varying circumstances, consider working closely with your defense attorney to help you establish the possible elements of a crime to expect during trial. By doing this, you are better equipped to prepare compelling defenses that increase your chances of a favorable case outcome.

Using Lost and Found Property as Yours

While finding lost property does not attract criminal charges, keeping it and using it as your goods is unlawful. Subsequently, you are subject to grand theft charges for retaining lost and found property unless you have justifications for keeping it for extended durations.

The prosecutor’s case revolves around demonstrating that you ought to have reasonably known that the rightful owner may be looking for it. During the trial, they may refer to the duration you remained with the property and your refusal to report the found goods in good faith.

Despite this, your defense attorney can help you justify your position to show that you were not malicious in retaining the property. Doing so involves sourcing multiple evidential sources, so consider working with an experienced attorney.

Misusing Property that Belongs to a Vulnerable Owner

Vulnerable adults are those over 18 who require special care and attention based on unique circumstances. For example, if they live with an unusual medical condition that limits their mobility or cognitive ability, they are subject to a third party helping them care for their property.

If you are in a trusted position to care for a property on behalf of a vulnerable person, you must act with integrity and avoid fraudulent or malicious conduct like misusing or illegally benefiting from the property in question.

Abusing Your Responsibility When Handling Property for Illegal Benefits

Similarly, your professional roles may involve handling different property types, like cash, valuable jewelry, or other tangible items. While you can take the items when performing your roles, you do not have a legal claim over the goods.

Based on this, misusing your access to the property entrusted to you may attract grand theft penalties. Specifically, you face arrest if direct links exist to show that you withheld information or provided misleading details to deter attention from you. If the prosecutor’s argument demonstrates that you deliberately tried to continue abusing your access to goods or property, you are answerable for grand theft charges.

Using Someone’s Property Without Intent to Return It

Using someone’s property may imply initial consent to access it, provided you return it in good time. Extending the duration you retain and use the property may attract grand theft charges, as you do not intend to replace it.

The prosecutor should show that you refused to return the property despite knowing it belonged to someone else. The prosecution team can expect to rely on circumstantial evidence to expound on their case. For example, if you hide the property to avoid investigation and questions about ownership, the prosecutor emphasizes the details to portray your criminal intention.

Penalties for Committing Grand Theft

Grand theft crimes often translate to felonies based on the value of stolen property. As a result, you may receive penalties in the following categories after the judge finds you guilty:

Class 6: Felony Penalties

A class 6 felony penalty for grand theft may result in four months to six years in state prison or a three-year mandatory probation. The felony penalties apply if you steal goods worth between  $1000 and $2000.

Class 5: Felony Penalties

You receive a Class 5 penalty for theft of goods worth between $2000 and $3000. If so, you may face six months to 2.5 years in state prison or a three-year mandatory probation sentence.

Class 3 Felony Penalties

A class 3 penalty applies if you steal goods worth $4000 to $25000, making it a serious offense. Subsequently, you may face two to eight years in state prison or five years of probation.

Class 2 Felony Penalties

The most severe grand theft category is a class 2 felony, which applies to stolen goods worth more than $25,000 as provided for under Section 13-802 G of the Arizona Revised Statutes. Guilty parties may face twelve years in state prison or serve a seven-year probation sentence.

Applicable Defenses for Grand Theft Charges

Your constitutional rights allow you to raise a defense against what the prosecutor alleges, per the right to a fair trial. The defense hearing is your chance to deny the prosecution’s accusations and present a unique perspective on your case.

With a skilled criminal defense attorney’s help, you will prepare and source evidence to present the following:

  • The Property Owner Gave You Consent to Handle their Property.
  • You are genuinely believed to Have Good Title to the Property.
  • The Property in Question was Not Stolen.
  • You are the Actual Property Owner.
  • You are a Victim of Police Misconduct.

Contact a Criminal Attorney Near Me

When you or your loved one faces criminal charges related to grand theft, you must work on your defense case immediately. Learning about the elements of crime and what amounts to grand theft is also essential, as it helps you strengthen your defense case. Also, consider partnering with a skilled and experienced attorney to help you obtain the necessary resources.

At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, you receive quality legal assistance and directives to help you fight grand theft accusations. Our team is well-equipped to handle your case by conducting thorough research and sourcing evidence. We also represent you in court to present highly persuasive arguments that cast reasonable doubt on the prosecutor’s case.

With our help, you can worry less about court hearing preparation as you work with a skilled team of professional attorneys. If you or a loved one is looking for an attorney to defend them against grand theft accusations in Phoenix, Arizona, call us today at 602-551-8092.

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