Arizona’s theft laws cover a broad class of actions that involve the wrongful taking of another person’s property. Common examples of thefts include retail theft, theft during a burglary, embezzlement, credit card fraud, and auto thefts. In addition to physically taking property, theft can be charged for receiving stolen property, not reporting or trying to find the owner of lost property, and receiving services without paying for them.
Because of the broad nature of theft laws, it is possible to be charged with theft as the result of an honest misunderstanding. However, the stigma attached to any theft conviction is strong as a criminal history check does not show the underlying circumstances, and employers, landlords, and others may worry that they too may become the victim of a theft. If you’ve been charged with or accused of theft, you should immediately schedule a consultation with a criminal defense attorney.
Penalties for Theft Charges
Arizona has a sliding scale for theft charges based on the value of the property stolen. Thefts under $1,000 are considered misdemeanors punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. There are five classes of felony thefts ranging from a class six felony (punishable by up to two years in prison and a $150,000 fine) for theft of property valued at least $1,000 but not more than $2,000 up to a class two felony (punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000) for thefts greater than $25,000. In addition to the criminal penalties, a civil penalty of up to twice the value of the property stolen plus $250 may be ordered to be paid to its owner.
If a theft involved the use of a weapon, the taking of property directly from another person, property damage (such as breaking a window or door), or other criminal acts, additional penalties and criminal charges may result.
Defending a Theft Charge
Theft charges require the prosecution to prove a number of elements beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes that property was taken, the rightful owner of the property, the value of the property, the identity of the person taking the property, and the fact that the person taking the property had no legal right to do so. If the prosecution fails to prove just a single element, a verdict of not guilty must be returned, and this means that an experienced criminal defense attorney can often find several angles from which to attack a theft charge.
Schill Law Group believes in taking a client-centered approach to the defense of all theft charges. You will work directly with a single attorney from start to finish, and your fee does not increase if you exercise your constitutional right to a trial. Call us today for a free consultation and to learn more about how we may be able to help you.