Phoenix Shoplifting Crimes Defense Attorney

A conviction for shoplifting in the state of Arizona is no small matter.  You can be stuck with a permanent criminal record, jail time, probation, and fines for what was seemingly an incredibly minor transgression. If you’ve been accused of shoplifting in Arizona, please contact the Phoenix shoplifting crimes defense attorneys at AZ Defenders for help with your case.

Phoenix Shoplifting Defense Resources

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What is Shoplifting?
Why Hire an Attorney for Shoplifting Charges?
What is the Punishment for Shoplifting in Arizona?
How Does Shoplifting Differ From Robbery?
Potential Defenses to Shoplifting Charges
Will a Shoplifting Conviction Always Lead to Jail Time?
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What is Shoplifting?

There are several ways that shoplifting can be committed in Arizona. Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1805, while you are in an establishment in which merchandise is displayed for sale, you knowingly obtain those goods of another with the intent to deprive them of such goods by:

  • Removing them from the immediate display or any other place within the establishment without paying the purchase price;
  • Charging the purchase price of the goods to a fictitious person or any person without that person’s authority;
  • Paying less than the purchase price by a trick or artifice, such as altering, removing, substituting, or disfiguring a label, tag, or marking;
  • Moving the goods from one container to another;
  • Concealment

Phoenix Shoplifting Attorney

Why Hire an Attorney for Shoplifting Charges in Phoenix?

If you are facing shoplifting charges in Phoenix, Arizona, it is critical to contact a defense attorney as soon as possible. Do not assume that the penalties you could be facing are minor. Depending on the value of the goods that were allegedly stolen, you could be facing felony theft charges and a sentence that includes jail time. Hiring an attorney can protect you from the most serious penalties associated with shoplifting charges. It may allow you to achieve the best possible outcome for your criminal case.

You can benefit in many ways by hiring an attorney for shoplifting charges, including:

  • Receiving important advice and representation during law enforcement interrogations.
  • Completing bail applications so that you do not have to await trial in jail.
  • Taking care of confusing legal paperwork for you.
  • Preparing a stronger defense using all available evidence and resources.
  • Filing motions for you, such as a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence.
  • Assisting you throughout the court process to ensure you have everything you need.

A criminal defense lawyer will understand Arizona’s shoplifting statutes and how to navigate theft crime cases. A law firm has important resources that can strengthen your defense, such as connections to experts who can testify on your behalf. Your lawyer will search for all potential defense options based on the circumstances of the alleged crime and factors that are unique to you, such as a lack of criminal history. Finally, an attorney can answer your legal questions and provide you with better peace of mind during this stressful time.

What is the Punishment for Shoplifting in Arizona?

How you can be punished for shoplifting depends on a few factors, including the value of the items taken, if there was a continuing criminal episode, if you used any items to facilitate the shoplifting, if you are assisting a gang, and if you have any prior shoplifting convictions. For more information regarding specific punishments for shoplifting in Arizona, speak with a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer experienced in defending against shoplifting charges.


If you are convicted of shoplifting property valued at $2,000 or more, then you face a Class 5 Felony.  You can be sentenced to prison for between half a year and 2.5 years, be placed on 3 years of probation, pay a fine of up to $150,000 plus surcharges.

If the property is valued at between $1,000 and $1,999.99, then you face a Class 6 Felony.  You can be sentenced to prison for 4 months to 2 years, be placed on 3 years of probation, and be required to pay a fine of up to $150,000 plus surcharges.

If the property is valued at less than $1,000, then it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, unless it is a firearm, in which case it is a Class 6 Felony.  If convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor, you face a maximum sentence of 6 months in jail, a $2,500 fine, and up to 3 years of probation.

Continuing Criminal Episode

If you shoplift property during a “continuing criminal episode” then you face a Class 5 Felony and can be sentenced to prison for between half a year and 2.5 years, 3 years of probation, and a fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.  A continuing criminal episode is the theft of property valued at $1,500 or more if committed during at least 3 separate incidents within a 90-day period.  Think repeat customer.

Artifice or Item

If you use any artifice, instrument, container, device, or article with the intent to facilitate shoplifting in the course of committing a shoplifting offense, then you face a Class 4 Felony.  If convicted, you can be sentenced to prison for 1 year to 3.75 years, 4 years of probation, and a fine of up to $150,000 plus surcharges.  These items can include something as simple as a purse or a backpack into which goods were place before leaving the retail store.

Assisting a Gang or Criminal Syndicate

If you commit shoplifting to promote, further, or assist a criminal street gang or criminal street gang, regardless of the value of the property, then you face a Class 5 Felony and can be sentenced to prison for between half a year and 2.5 years, 3 years of probation, and a fine of $150,000 plus surcharges.

Prior Shoplifting Convictions

If you have two or more convictions for offenses involving burglary, shoplifting, robbery, or organized retail theft, and are then convicted of a shoplifting, you face a Class 4 felony. If so convicted, you may be sentenced to prison for 1 year to 3.75 years, up to 4 years of probation, and a fine of up to $150,000 plus surcharges.

Felony Consequences

For all felonies, regardless of classification, the penalties get significantly harsher if you have prior felony theft convictions.  Moreover, a felony conviction can lead to loss of civil rights, future opportunities, and more.

Civil Penalties for Shoplifting 

You could face civil penalties in addition to criminal penalties as someone who is convicted of shoplifting in Arizona. While criminal penalties are meant to punish an offender and dissuade him or her from committing similar crimes in the future, civil penalties are aimed at reimbursing the victim for the stolen item(s) and making up for the crime. You may face civil penalties if the victim decides to sue you for shoplifting. 

A civil shoplifting lawsuit can be brought against an adult, an emancipated minor or the parents of a minor. The damages, or financial compensation, sought in a civil lawsuit may require the convicted shoplifter to pay for the total retail value of the stolen goods. In addition, the courts may issue a $250 civil penalty against the defendant. If the shoplifter is a minor, his or her parents or legal guardian will face a $100 civil penalty instead.

How Does Shoplifting Differ From Robbery?

Unlike shoplifting, robbery involves taking or attempting to take the property of another person against his or her will. The definition of robbery under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-1902 is threatening or using force against a victim in the course of taking property from the victim’s person or immediate presence against his or her will, with intent to either coerce the surrender of the property or prevent the victim from resisting the taking or retaining of the property.

Robbery is a Class 4 felony in Arizona, regardless of the value of the property stolen or attempted to be stolen. Unlike shoplifting, the type of charge and the criminal consequences of a robbery conviction do not depend on the value of the goods. The punishment for a robbery conviction is up to 3.75 years in prison. 

If a dangerous or deadly weapon was used in the commission of the crime, the charge is enhanced to a Class 2 felony (“armed robbery”), punishable with up to 21 years in prison. If you are facing criminal charges for robbery in Arizona, you must take it seriously. Being convicted of robbery can have lifelong consequences. Contact a robbery and theft crimes lawyer in Phoenix for professional criminal defense.

What Are Potential Defenses to Shoplifting Charges in Scottsdale?

The strength of your defense strategy may be all that stands between you and major consequences connected to a shoplifting conviction. This is why it is important to entrust your defense to a criminal defense attorney in Scottsdale; someone with training, education, skill and experience in this area of the law. An attorney will consider all potential defenses to your shoplifting charges. These may include:

  • Civil compromise – it may be an option to resolve your shoplifting case with an agreement to repay the establishment for their losses in exchange for dropping the charges against you.
  • A claim of right to the property – proof that you owned the property or believed you were the owner of the property that was allegedly stolen.
  • Lack of intent to steal or shoplift – the argument that you did not remove an item from the retail store with the intent to deprive the establishment of the item.
  • Violation of your civil rights – filing a motion for the suppression of evidence obtained illegally, such as during an unlawful search and seizure, or due to civil rights violations.
  • Wrong defendant/mistaken identity – evidence that shows you were mistaken for someone else, such as an alibi that places you somewhere other than at the scene of the crime.
  • The item was not concealed – a defense built on the technicality that if you did not hide or conceal the item when you walked out of the establishment with it, your actions do not meet the statutory definition of shoplifting.

Your lawyer can establish your defense strategy using any available evidence and witness testimony. If it is not possible to achieve a case acquittal, your lawyer can still push for a more positive case outcome, such as arguing the charges down from a felony to a misdemeanor or negotiating a plea deal. Hiring a criminal defense attorney to represent you is the best way to protect yourself during a shoplifting case in Scottsdale.

Will a Shoplifting Conviction Always Lead to Jail Time? 

No, but it is a possibility for all levels of shoplifting in Arizona. Even shoplifting property valued at less than $1,000 could come with up to six months of jail time. An attorney can improve your chances of staying out of jail with a shoplifting conviction. Your lawyer could use your lack of a criminal record to negotiate a probation plea deal, instead, for example. The odds of serving time in jail or prison for shoplifting increase if you have a prior criminal record – especially a felony record.

Contact Our Phoenix Shoplifting Defense Attorneys

Shoplifting is a commonly seen offense, but that does not mean that it is a simple one to defend.  If you are charged with shoplifting, then you face serious consequences and the potential for life-altering punishment.  You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help guide you and defend you and assist you in obtaining the best possible result in your shoplifting case.  Call AZ Defenders today at 480-456-6400 or contact us online for a free consultation so we can start helping you with your shoplifting case today.

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