Is Shoplifting a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Arizona?


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.

shoplifting in Arizona may be serious

Shoplifting in Arizona can be a felony

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:

  1. Taking the goods away from the establishment without paying the purchase price; or
  2. Charging a purchase price of the merchandise to a fictitious individual or any person without their authority; or
  3. Paying less than the purchase price by a trick such as changing or altering marking, price tags or labels.
  4. Transferring the goods from one container to another; or
  5. 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.

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When Can You be Imprisoned for Theft in Arizona?


Theft offenses are classified as property crimes. Although property crimes cause less alarm in communities than crimes of violence, a theft offense may be charged as a felony in Arizona. You can be imprisoned for a theft offense.

The basic definition of a theft crime the intentional taking of personal property belonging to another party without consent or a legal right to do so.

If you pick up another person’s briefcase believing it’s yours, you have not committed an offense because you lacked intent.

Jailed for theft in Arizona

When you can be imprisoned for theft in Arizona

Arizona has crimes of misdemeanor theft and felony theft on its statute books. The seriousness of the offense is linked to the value of the property stolen.

Under Arizona’s statutes, theft charges are brought as misdemeanors unless the value of the property stolen exceeds $1,000.

There are some exceptions to the rule, namely the theft of a firearm and an animal. Theft of a means of transportation is charged as a Class 3 felony.

Charges for the theft of an animal or gun are brought as a felony, even if the dollar value is less than $1,000.

If you have been charged with felony theft, there are six different categories. They are:

Class 6 Felony Thefts

If the value of the stolen  property or services was at least $1,000, but under $2,000, the offense will be charged as a class 6 felony carrying a potential prison sentence of 4 months to two years and a fine up to $150,000.

Class 5 Felony Thefts

Class 5 felony theft entail the larceny of goods or services valued from $2,000 to $3,000. This level of felony theft is punishable by a prison term of at least 6 months up to a maximum of 2.5 years, and a potential fine of up to $150,000.

Class 4 Felony Thefts

Stealing property or services valued from $3,000 to $4,000 in Arizona is classified as a Class 4 felony theft. This also applies to the larceny of a vehicle engine or a transmission.

Shoplifting may be a Class 4 felony under Arizona law when the defendant has two or more previous convictions that involved shoplifting, burglary, robbery, or theft within the previous five years. A class 4 felony theft carries a prison sentence ranging from one year to 3.75 years, and a fine of up to $150,000.

Class 3 Felony Thefts

Theft may be charged as a Class 3 felony when the value of the goods or services stolen is at least $4,000 but no greater than $25,000. The potential prison sentence rises markedly if a theft is a Class 3 felony. A conviction can lead to a prison term of two to 8.75 years and a fine of no greater than $150,000.

Class 2 Felony Thefts

When goods or services with a value over $25,000 are taken, the crime is charged as a Class 2 felony. Under Arizona law, this carries a potential prison sentence ranging from a minimum of three years to a maximum of 12.5 years, as well as a fine of up to $150,000.

A theft offense can be a serious matter in Arizona when it’s charged as a felony. The state also has civil penalties for theft which involve compensation being paid to victims.

If you or a family member has been accused of a theft crime, you should call an experienced Arizona theft defense attorney as soon as possible. Often people with a history of mental illness are wrongly accused of theft. Contact us at (602) 340-1999.


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Detained for Shoplifting? Know Your Rights.


Getting detained inside of a store or mall on suspicion of shoplifting can be terrifying.  Even though you may experience hostility and pressure from employees or security, you still have rights.

You must first have probable cause, did anyone actually see you take items from the store? They need to make sure they saw you physically pick up the item and watch you conceal it to be taken outside the store. In some jurisdictions, you cannot even be approached until you have exited the premises.

The people who detain you do not have the right to keep you confined in a small space. You are allowed to move about, as long as you are on the premises or under surveillance, if they have probable cause. At any time you have the option to request legal representation.

Cooperating is your best bet, some stores may not even contact the police and may ask you to just return the goods and never return. Keep a cool head, and don’t play the blame game—this can only create further hostility.

If you are carrying the stolen items, you do not have to incriminate yourself if police or security charge you; and if you haven’t already, make sure to obtain legal counsel. You have the right to remain silent until you speak with your lawyer. Make sure you team up with a Criminal Defense firm that can offer you sound advice, and fight for you in the court when the odds are against you.

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