Types of Shoplifting and Why You Will Need a Criminal Defense Attorney in Scottsdale

Shoplifting is a serious crime in Arizona, with far reaching consequences. In Arizona, shoplifting is one of the most common crimes committed. There were more than 50,000 instances of shoplifting reported in Arizona in 2015, which makes up over a third of all theft crimes committed. It is not uncommon for one to experience false allegations of shoplifting.

Shoplifting is classified as an act where an individual knowing takes goods displayed for sale from a business establishment with the intent to deprive the owner of their property. The “intent to deprive” the merchant of its goods is an essential element of the shoplifting crime. Any of the following could result in a shoplifting charge:

  • Taking displayed goods without paying for them;
  • Removing items from some other place within the establishment, such as the storeroom, without paying;
  • Charging goods to a fake account;
  • Charging goods to an existing account, but without the account holder’s permission;
  • Using some trick or artifice, such as altering, removing, substituting or otherwise disfiguring any label, price tag or marking, in order to pay less than the purchase price of the goods;
  • Transferring the goods from one container to another to get the items at a reduced price; and
  • Concealing goods so they can be sneaked out of the store.

Shoplifting is a type of theft crime which can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. The seriousness of the crime depends upon the value of the goods obtained and whether the item is a firearm. A conviction could result in jail or prison, lengthy probation, community restitution, and hefty criminal fines.

  • Class 1 Misdemeanor: The value of the goods or property was less than $1,000. A conviction carries a maximum possible sentence of up to six months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and up to three years probation.
  • Class 6 Felony: Two circumstances give rise to a class 6 felony theft for shoplifting. (1) The goods were valued at $1,000 or more, but less than $2,000.  (2)  The property taken was a firearm, even if the value was below $1,000. This conviction carries a possible prison term from 4 months to 2 years. The maximum allowable fine for a class 6 felony is $150,000. Probation may be ordered for up to three years.
  • Class 5 Felony: Three circumstances could lead to a class 5 felony charge. (1) The value of the goods obtained was $2,000 or more. (2) When a continuing criminal episode resulted in obtaining goods valued at $1,500 or more, during at least three separate events within a 90 day period. (3) When the shoplifter assisted a gang or syndicate. This conviction carries a possible prison sentence of between six months to 2.5 years. The maximum allowable fine for a class 5 felony is $150,000. Probation may be ordered for up to three years.
  • Class 4 Felony: There are two instances in which the defendant might be convicted of class 4 felony shoplifting. (1) When the person used some “artifice, instrument, container, device or other article” to facilitate the shoplifting. Even a shopping bag could be a “container” under this provision. (2) When the person already has two prior offenses within the past five years for shoplifting or other theft crimes, such as burglary, robbery, or organized retail theft. This is the most serious shoplifting felony. A conviction carries a possible prison sentence of between 1 year and 3.75 years. The maximum allowable fine for a class 4 felony is $150,000. Probation may be ordered for up to four years.

It is common for the store to detain a suspected shoplifter before the police arrive. The store has the legal right to do so. The law provides that any employee can detain someone in a reasonable way in order to question them or wait for law enforcement to arrive. The law also authorizes merchants to take civil actions against alleged shoplifters. Civil penalties include the retail value of the stolen items, even if the merchandise is recovered, along with an assessment of $250.

If you stand accused of the crime of shoplifting, contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, now. Your freedom, your rights and your future are at stake. It is very important that you speak to an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney who is familiar with such matters. Robert provides individual service when protecting your rights. Contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, directly by email or by calling 480-860-4321 now for a free initial consultation.