Many people who are charged with shoplifting don’t take the offense seriously. They assume they will get a slap on the wrists and a fine. However, shoplifting in Arizona can be charged as a felony in certain circumstances.
It’s vital to take the offense seriously and to hire an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer if you have been charged with shoplifting.
Whether shoplifting is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depends on factors such as the value of the goods that were stolen.
A shoplifting charge can be brought under a number of scenarios in Arizona. Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1805 you can be charged with shoplifting if:
A person who is shopping knowingly obtains goods from the store with the intent to deprive the establishment of its merchandise by:
- Taking the goods away from the establishment without paying the purchase price; or
- Charging a purchase price of the merchandise to a fictitious individual or any person without their authority; or
- Paying less than the purchase price by a trick such as changing or altering marking, price tags or labels.
- Transferring the goods from one container to another; or
- Concealing merchandise.
Although most shoplifting offenses will be charged as misdemeanors if the value of the items stolen is under $1,000, this crime can be a felony in the following circumstances:
The value of the items stolen was $1,000 or more, but less than $2,000. The offense will be charged as a Class 6 felony.
- Merchandise valued at more than $2,000 was stolen – the offense is charged as a Class 5 felony;
- Shoplifting was part of a continuous criminal episode;
- Shoplifting was committed to promote gang activity;
- You used a device or an instrument to shoplift property – this can be charged as a Class 4 felony.
- You had two similar convictions for theft offenses within five years of the alleged offense.
A “continuing criminal episode” is defined as the theft of property or goods valued at $1,500 or more in three separate incidences within 90 days.
If you are charged with felony shoplifting you could be locked up in jail for almost four years.
In some jurisdictions, shoplifters are eligible for diversion programs. These programs can allow you to attend classes and have your charges dismissed if you successfully complete the programs. These programs are only available for first-time offenders.
It’s important not to dismiss a shoplifting crime as unimportant. A conviction can hamper your life and even result in jail time. Please contact our experienced Arizona criminal defense lawyer today to talk about your options if you have been charged with shoplifting.