Theft is a crime that occurs every day—especially cases of misdemeanor theft. This is a well-known type of criminal offense. Usually, misdemeanor theft involves the stealing of property that is relatively small in value. Just think of someone taking cans of food from a grocery store. This may seem like an insignificant type of criminal; however, this is far from the truth. misdemeanor theft is just as serious as any other criminal interaction. In the state of Arizona, this offense can lead to serious penalties and punishments if convicted. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the penalties can become even greater than expected.
This is why you a professional and experienced lawyer on your side if you have been recently charged with a misdemeanor theft type of offense. At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, our team of expert lawyers and staff members are well acquainted with Arizona’s criminal codes and are prepared to help you with any sort of criminal offense like misdemeanor theft. You need someone on your side that with help to make sure your rights are protected. Also, you need someone who understands your situation and is willing to make the legal process easier on you.
What Is Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft?
misdemeanor theft is a specific type of theft offense dependent on the value of the stolen property at the time at which it was stolen. This type of offense may sometimes be referred to as shoplifting. Usually, it is considered to be misdemeanor theft, or shoplifting, in the state of Arizona if the market value of the property is under $1,000. This can also be considered a form of shoplifting. Before looking into the specific laws dealing with misdemeanor theft, it is crucial to take note of the definition of theft in Arizona state. This way you can be aware of what you are charged with and how your actions may or may not be considered theft.
As defined under Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 13-1802, an individual commits the act of theft if they purposely:
- Take control of another individual’s personal property with the intention to strip the owner of their control,
- Use property or a service entrusted to them for an unauthorized amount of time or purpose,
- Take control of lost property without notifying the property’s owner,
- Take control of property that is known to be stolen, or
- Receiving property or service without paying compensation or without intending to make a payment.
All of these and other similar types of actions constitute theft under Arizona law. The basic idea of theft is the taking of another individual’s property without the proper permission, and with the intent to keep it for yourself.
Under this statute, a misdemeanor theft charge may be brought up if the value of the stolen property at the time of the incident is under $1,000. This is assessed as a class 1 misdemeanor under the Arizona criminal code. If the market value of the stolen property is over this amount, then it may be considered grand theft and can lead to even more severe punishments.
- While shopping at a local second-hand shop, Alex decides to stash a couple hundred dollars' worth of jewelry in his backpack while the employees are distracted. Since the stolen property is worth less than $1,000, this is considered misdemeanor theft.
The above situation describes a basic incident of misdemeanor theft. However, it is crucial to know that there are other factors that may increase the seriousness of the charge, and, thus, the punishments. As further indicated under ARS § 13-1802(G), if during an incident of theft, the perpetrator steals a firearm or animal for the purposes of animal fighting, the charge will be raised to a class 6 felony—even if the actual value of the stolen property is under $1,000.
Even though misdemeanor theft may simple crime to understand, there are quite a few parts to it and certain specifics about what can be considered theft. Also, despite its simplicity, this offense can lead to serious punishments in Arizona—especially if there are any aggravating or serious circumstances to consider.
Penalties for Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft
As with any other type of criminal offense, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor theft charge, then you will have to face certain penalties and punishments that befit the crime. In Arizona, each type of offense is a certain class which determines the possible penalties and punishments. Under ARS § 13-1802, a misdemeanor theft type of offense is considered to be a class 1 misdemeanor. This means that for a basic misdemeanor theft charge, you may face the following punishments:
- Up to six (6) months in jail,
- Up to three (3) years of probation, and/or
- Fines up to $2,500.
Also, as with any other type of theft offense, you may be made to pay restitution towards the owner of the property. On top of this, you may have to pay court fees and more.
As mentioned before and under ARS § 13-1802(G), if the property that was stolen was either a firearm or an animal to be used for fighting, the offense may be raised to a class 6 felony, despite the value of the property. Even though this may be considered to be the least serious of a felony offense, the punishments are still severe. Under this category, if charged and convicted the possible punishments may include the following:
- Between three (3) months and two (2) years in state prison and/or
- Fines up to $150,000.
It is also crucial to know that certain aggravating circumstances may elevate the penalties and punishments for any sort of theft offense. This can include situations in which an assault occurs, the presence of a firearm, the presence of another accomplice, and other types of details that would make the crime more serious in nature. If any of these are the case, the imprisonment times may be increased to reflect the seriousness of the offense.
What Needs to Be Proven
If you are facing a misdemeanor theft offense and your case is taken to an Arizona court, then it is crucial to know about what needs to be shown to be convicted of the crime. As with any criminal case, you are innocent until proven guilty by the prosecutor—this is the same with misdemeanor theft. Arizona’s criminal code clearly outline specific elements of any crime that must be proven. Besides the property being under $1,000 in value, for misdemeanor theft, other key elements include: you stole the property from another individual, you intentionally sought to deprive the owner of their control, and you knowingly sought to take the property.
Took Another Individual’s Property
For any type of theft offense, it is only considered to be theft if you take property that does not belong to you. Again, as stated under ARS § 13-1802, it is a crime to take another person’s personal property without authorization, use property or service for unauthorized purpose or period of time, keep lost property without notifying the owner, not paying for property or service, and knowingly keeping stolen property.
These represent some of the ways in which you may take property that does not belong to you from their rightful owner. The prosecutor will need to show that the property in question does not, in fact, belong to you. This is only the first part of proving a theft offense.
Purposely Took the Property
The second element that should be proven in court is that you purposely sought to take another individual’s property. ARS § 13-1802 clearly states for theft cases that the perpetrator must have knowingly sought to control, keep, or take another person’s personal property. The prosecutor must show that the act of taking the property was intentional and meant to serve the defendant’s own purposes. If not, then you may not be charged with this offense.
Intention to Deprive
Lastly, and possibly most crucially, the prosecutor must prove that the defendant intentionally sought to deprive the owner of their rightful property. ARS § 13-1802 makes specific mention that the perpetrator of the crime must have had the intent to deprive the other person of their property. This means the defendant must have intentionally sought to keep the property for him or herself. This may go along with purposely taking the property in that the act itself was intentional. However, with this point, the statute further defines theft as taking what is not yours without permission and keeping for yourself or not giving back the property to its owner.
Legal Defenses for misdemeanor Theft
Once you have been charged with a misdemeanor theft offense, you should start thinking about how to fight the charges. With the assistance of a well-experienced lawyer, this can mean building a defense to fight the charges. Also, if you feel that the charges placed against you are unfounded, you may be able to build a defense out of this if it can be proven in court. Common defenses for misdemeanor theft cases include, but are not limited to: no intent to deprive, the property was actually yours, you were authorized to control the property, and false accusation.
Did Not Intend to Deprive
One of the major elements for any theft charge is the intent to deprive the other person of their property. This means that you sought to take the property and keep it out of the original owner’s control. This is what makes it a theft offense.
This type of defense may be made to indicate that you accidentally took the other individual’s property. Especially in shoplifting type of cases, this can mean that you accidentally walked out of a store with unpaid goods or that something was mistakenly placed in your possession.
Reason to Believe Property was Yours
Again, in order for your actions to be considered theft, you must have taken property that did not belong to you. So, if the property in question did actually belong to you or if you did have any reason to believe that the property was rightfully in your possession, you cannot be charged with misdemeanor theft.
If this is the case, you must show how this is so in court. Also, there are times in which there is a miscommunication of some sort that led you to believe that you own or had the right to control any property. If this is the case, you must still show this is so in court.
Lastly, if you believe that you have been falsely accused of misdemeanor theft, the charges may be dropped if it can be proven in the court of law. Often times, close family member, friends, or co-workers may accuse of stealing something due to emotional situations or arguments. If you can prove that you need did not steal the property, or if the property was yours, despite the accusations, then the charges may be dropped. Like with any other type of defense, you must be able to prove your case in the court of law. This is where the assistance of an experienced lawyer will be helpful for your case.
Offenses Related and Similar to Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft
There are many different laws regarding theft in Arizona, and misdemeanor theft is just one of them. Sometimes, you may be charged with some other offense that is similar but comes with different specifications and possible punishments. Each type of criminal offense is determined by the specific circumstances of each situation and any aggravating factors. Not only will this affect the charge, but it will determine what punishments you may receive. Offenses related to and similar to misdemeanor theft include shoplifting, and robbery.
Shoplifting may be an offense filed additional to misdemeanor theft. Under ARS § 13-1805(A), shoplifting is considered to be knowingly depriving a store, or business, of goods by removing it without paying, charging the purchase to a fake identity, paying a reduced price by altering the price tag or label, switching containers, or concealing the goods. All of these actions may constitute a shoplifting charge along with a misdemeanor theft offense if the value of the stolen goods is below $1,000.
A grand theft offense is similar to a misdemeanor theft offense; however, grand theft applies to cases in which the value of the property amounts to over $1,000. This type of offense is also contained under ARS § 13-1802. Since the value of the property is greater in this case, the possible penalties are much greater. This may lead to a class 6 felony up to a class 2 felony. Again, the class type is determined by the value of the property as well as the details of the incident. For a first-time grand theft offense, the punishments can range from six (6) months to ten (10) years in prison, plus an additional $150,000 fine.
Lastly, robbery may be charged instead of misdemeanor theft in some cases. Robbery, as defined under ARS § 13-1902, is a form of theft in which property is taken from another person’s body or their immediate presence through the use of physical force or by presenting a threat of some kind. Due to these circumstances, this offense is much more serious than simple theft. The potential punishments, again, will be greater as well.
Also, for cases of robbery, the offense may be enhanced to either a robbery with a firearm or aggravated robbery. In these types of situations, the perpetrator may have a firearm on them, damage property any property, or have an accomplice during the robbery incident. This would further enhance the punishments.
Finding a Criminal Lawyer Near Me Who Can Help
Even though misdemeanor theft, or any other kind of theft, may be a common type of crime in Arizona, this does not make it any less of a serious matter. A misdemeanor theft offense carries serious penalties, and they may even be increased depending on the specifics of the case. It is crucial to understand what theft is in Arizona. There are many elements to these types of cases and certain definitions that may consider specific actions as theft. However, you should not have to fret over the details of a misdemeanor theft case. This is where an excellent lawyer can step in and help you figure out what route to take.
Our lawyers at Phoenix Criminal Lawyer are standing by to hear from you and to step in to help you with a misdemeanor theft offense. Our team is experienced in the field of criminal law in Arizona. They will go through all your available options to determine what steps you should take next. If you have been recently charged with misdemeanor theft, do not pause to call our offices at 602-551-8092. It is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges to contact a lawyer as soon as they possibly can so as to ensure all options are reviewed. By contacting us, we can begin to review your case and get started with you as soon as possible.