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Theft

Perhaps not surprisingly, theft commonly occurs not only in the state of Arizona but throughout the nation. Most people can readily describe it as the unlawful taking of another individual’s property. However, did you know that there are different types of theft crimes in Arizona? They all involve the taking of another individual’s property, but they differentiate based on the details of the act and the type of property. , or felony, theft is one specific form of theft crime as described under state statutes. Most of the time, theft indicates that the property in question is of significant value; thus, the punishments are greater.

Have you recently been faced with a theft offense? Phoenix Criminal Attorney may be able to help you. Our staff of lawyers are seasoned and well versed in Arizona’s criminal laws. With our expertise, you can be sure that you are receiving the best help around. Our staff can look over the details of your cases and discuss any available options or path you can take. This can mean going over the specifics of a theft charge and any possible defenses that can be used for your case.

What Makes Theft Different?

You may be wondering what exactly makes a theft offense a theft offense? theft usually indicates cases of theft where the monetary worth of the property is significant in amount. In the state of Arizona, there are many parts within its laws regarding theft. It is important to take note of these specifics since different situations and details may be considered a certain crime and can lead to different penalties. The property in question’s monetary value determines the class of the crime and the possible punishments that come with it.

When it comes down to understanding theft crimes, it is important to know about what theft actually is defined as in the state of Arizona. The general idea of theft crimes is described under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1802.  Theft is considered to be knowingly controlling the property of another individual with the intent to deprive them of their rightful control. Also, it is still considered a form of theft if you:

  • Use another individual’s property or service for a period of time that has not been authorized,
  • Obtain another individual’s property or services for a period of time that has not been authorized,
  • Keep lost or misplaced property without the intent to find its original owner,
  • Unknowingly keep or concealing stolen property, or
  • Obtain services without paying or intending to pay.

Property is defined as anything of value, tangible or intangible. In these cases, the value of the property is the market value of the property at the time of the crime. Also, a control means that the person who owns the property can exclude other individual’s from using the property, or as defined on their own terms.

A theft charge indicates that the defendant had taken the property of significant value. Under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1802, this can be thought of as an incident of theft in which the property’s value exceeds $1,000. If the value is under this, then it is only considered to be a petty theft type of incident and different consequences.

The statute has more specific classifications of theft based upon the value of the property. If the property is valued between $1,000 and $2,000, or if it is a firearm, the theft charge is a class 6 felony. If the value of the property is between $2,000 and $3,000, the theft charge is a class 5 felony. If the value of the property is between $3,000 and $4,000, or if it is a vehicle engine or transmission, the theft charge is a class 4 felony. If the value of the property is between $4,000 and $25,000, the theft charge is a class 3 felony. If the value is $25,000 or greater, the theft charge is a class 2 felony in Arizona. Simply put, the greater the stolen property’s value, the greater the class and the possible punishments.

A general idea of how a theft charge may be determined:

  • Class 6 felony: greater than $1,000 but less than $2,000
  • Class 5 felony: greater than $2,000 but less than $3,000
  • Class 4 felony: greater than $3,000 but less than $4,000
  • Class 3 felony: greater than $4,000 but less than $25,000
  • Class 2 felony: greater than $25,000

It should also be noted that certain circumstances and details about a case may elevate the offense, and, thus, the possible punishments. This statute provides a basic outline for theft crimes. A theft charge is serious enough in itself. The state of Arizona has thorough laws regarding these types of cases, and harsh punishments for those who commit them.

Penalties and Punishments for Theft

Since a theft offense is a more serious form of a theft offense, the possible penalties and punishments will be quite severe depending on the details and circumstances of the incident. As listed above, the value of the stolen property will help to determine what punishments you will receive since each class of offense comes with its own set of punishments. Again, you must remember that these are the basic outlined punishments as listed under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1802. It is possible to receive greater punishments if there are any mitigating or aggravating circumstances within your case.

First Time Offense

The following imprisonment sentences apply to first offense theft cases. Depending on the property stolen, the defendant may face time in prison and fines of up to $150,000 plus any additional fines and fees. Also, they will be required to pay back restitution for the stolen property to the original owner.

If convicted of a class 6 felony theft charge, then the defendant may face between six (6) months and one and a half (1.5) years in prison. Remember, this may also apply to cases in which the stolen property was a living creature or firearm.

If convicted of a class 5 felony theft charge, then the defendant may face between nine (9) months and two (2) years in prison.

If convicted of a class 4 felony theft charge, then the defendant may face between eighteen (18) months and three (3) years in prison.

If convicted of a class 3 felony theft charge, then the defendant may face between thirty (30) months and seven (7) years in prison.

If convicted of class 2 felony theft charge, then the defendant may face between four (4) and ten (10) years in prison.

Repeat Offenses / Mitigated and Aggravated Circumstances

Under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-702, imprisonment sentences may be increased depending on the defendant’s previous criminal history and if there are any aggravated circumstances. Aggravating circumstances include: inflicting an injury on the victim, having a firearm present, damaging property, having an accomplice, and more. Also, under Arizona’s criminal code, a defendant’s imprisonment sentence may even be reduced, or mitigated, based upon certain factors.

  • If convicted of a class 6 felony, a mitigated sentence could be four (4) months in prison and an aggravated sentence could reach up to two (2) years in prison.
  • If convicted of a class 5 felony, a mitigated sentence could be six (6) months in prison and an aggravated sentence could reach up to two and a half (2.5) years in prison.
  • If convicted of a class 4 felony, a mitigated sentence could be one (1) year in prison and an aggravated sentence could reach up to three and three-quarters (3.75) years in prison.
  • If convicted of a class 3 felony, a mitigated sentence could be two (2) years in prison and an aggravated sentence could reach up to eight and three-quarters (8.75) years in prison.
  • If convicted of a class 2 felony, a mitigated sentence could be three (3) and an aggravated sentence could reach twelve and a half (12.5) years in prison.

Even in these cases, the defendant may still have to pay any fees and fines. This may include a fine of up to $150,000. Also, they will be required to pay restitution for the stolen property to the original owner.

Necessary Elements for Theft

Similar to any other type of criminal offense, once you have been charged your case may be taken to court in order to determine whether you are guilty or not guilty. If the case reaches the courthouse, the prosecutor will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt some key elements for a theft offense. Important elements that need to be proven include that the property was purposely and unlawfully taken, and the defendant intended to deprive the owner of the property.

Property Was Unlawfully Taken

In order to be convicted of a theft type of offense, the prosecutor must prove that you intentionally took someone else’s property without their permission.

As communicated under Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1802, this can mean another person’s property was taken without their proper permission, or for an unauthorized amount of time. This can also mean keeping lost property while not actively trying to find its owner, or even receiving property that you know is stolen. Lastly, if you obtain property or service without paying or without intending to pay for it, it is still considered to be a form of theft.

As mentioned above, in order to be considered a theft type of offense, the value of the stolen property or service should be above $1,000. If this is not the case, then it will be considered a petty type of theft in Arizona.

Intent to Deprive

Secondly, and more importantly, the prosecutor needs to prove that you intended to purposely deprive the rightful owner of the property for an extended period of time. Along with taking someone else’s property, it must be shown that you purposely intended to take it away from them and keeping it under your control. There must be clear intent to deprive. If not, then you may not be convicted of a theft type of offense in Arizona. This is the criminal aspect of the offense since it displays a motive that would make another individual suffer on purpose.

 Defenses

If you have recently been charged with a theft type of offense, then it is important to know that there are defenses that can be used to fight it. With the aid of a professional lawyer, a proper defense may be determined based upon your position and the circumstances. There are times in which you may be wrongly accused, and it is important to know your options. Common defenses include: you did not intend to commit theft, the property belonged to you, you received the proper permission, and you were falsely accused.

No Intent to Commit Theft

As stated in Arizona Revised Statute § 13-1802, there needs to have been a clear intention to deprive the property’s owner of their control in order to be considered theft. If you did not actually intend to do this, then you may not be charged with this offense. This can be something as simple as taking another person’s property by mistake.

Example:

  • While looking around a high-end clothing boutique, you try on various items. In the end, you return everything, but forget about an expensive pair of jeans and you accidentally take them home.

Since there is no clear intent to steal in this situation, it cannot legally be considered theft. If you feel this type of situation applies to you, you may use it as a defense and prove it in court.

Property Was Yours

If you had a reasonable belief that the property in question was rightfully yours, then you may not be charged with this offense if you can prove it in court. If you believed you had some sort of claim-of-right, you need to show evidence of this in court. 

This may be related to situations where you have been wrongly accused of stealing property. Some emotional situations may lead to false accusations of theft—even if you believe the property to be yours.

You Received Permission

Similarly, in order to be convicted of theft, you need to have taken someone else’s property without their permission or authorization. If you did, in fact, receive permission, you may not be charged. Of course, you need to prove this in court in order to drop the charges.

Similar and Related Offenses

 There is a couple of related and similar type of offenses in Arizona state. Of course, it all depends on the circumstances of the situation. Similar types of offenses include failure to return rented or leased property, robbery, and auto theft.

Failure to Return Rented Property (ARS § 13-1806)

In Arizona, it’s considered a form of theft if you fail to return rented or leased property without notifying the lessor. This can be considered a form of theft because it is intentionally taking another person’s rightful property for an unauthorized period of time and without their proper permission. If you do not notify the lender or lessor, or provide a lawful excuse, the property may be reported as stolen.

Robbery (ARS § 13-1902)

Robbery is similar to but differs from simple theft. This indicates the defendant has taken another individual’s property from his/her presence by using physical force or threatening to do so. This is more serious since the victim may suffer even more. This may even be elevated to aggravated (ARS § 13-1903) or armed (ARS § 13-1904) robbery depending on the circumstances. This may be added on top of a theft type of offense depending on the property taken. 

Auto Theft (ARS §§ 13-1813, 13-1814)

It is a serious crime to knowingly control another person’s means of transportation with the intent to permanently deprive them of their ownership. This form of theft involves any form of transportation. It is still a crime to use another person’s means of transportation in an unauthorized manner or for an unauthorized period of time.

Also, it is a crime in Arizona to fail to return a vehicle you are leasing, renting, or making payments on. If you fail to return it, the creditor or holder may report it stolen within 60 days. This still considered to be a form of auto theft.

Finding a Criminal Attorney Near Me

There is a lot to know and consider about theft cases. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our team of lawyers is prepared to be on your side and fight for you. If you, or anyone you know, has been charged with theft, or any other similar type of offense, do not hesitate to contact us at 602-551-8092. With our expertise in the Arizona criminal code, you can be assured that you will be reaching the best legal assistance in the Phoenix area. We know that fighting any type of criminal offense can be stressful and worrisome, and we are here to make sure that you follow the proper procedures. We will make the process as easy on you as possible.

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