Facing shoplifting charges in Flagstaff can be a frightening experience, as the consequences can be severe. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor or a felony in Arizona, depending on the circumstances and the value of the stolen items.
If you were arrested for shoplifting, you should obtain the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can provide you with strong legal counsel. You also need to know how shoplifting is defined in Arizona and the potential penalties you may face if convicted.
What Constitutes Shoplifting in Arizona?
Five Ways Shoplifting Can Be Committed in Arizona
- Removing items. It is considered shoplifting to remove items from a display or anywhere in the store without paying for the goods.
- Charging purchase price. Another way an individual can commit this offense is to charge the purchase price to a fake account or an individual's credit card without their consent.
- Switching price tags. Removing or altering price tags or taking other actions to pay a lower amount than the item's actual value also constitutes shoplifting.
- Transferring goods. This offense can also be committed if goods are slipped into another container to obtain them for free or at a reduced price.
- Concealing items. A person can be found guilty of shoplifting if they hide merchandise on their person, in a bag, or in any other location with the intent to steal it.
A key element of shoplifting is the intent to deprive the merchant of their goods. Under ARS §13-1805, this intent is presumed if the accused does either of the following actions:
- Knowingly conceals on themselves or another person unpurchased merchandise of a store while in the store
- Uses an artifice, instrument, container, device, or another instrument to assist in the shoplifting
When Is Shoplifting Charged as a Misdemeanor?
Shoplifting is a misdemeanor when the value of the goods taken is less than $1,000. A person would be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor in this situation.
When Can Shoplifting Be Charged as a Felony?
While shoplifting is typically charged as a misdemeanor, specific factors can elevate the offense to a felony. Shoplifting can be charged as a Class 4, 5, or 6 felony in Arizona under the following circumstances:
Class 6 Felony
If the stolen merchandise's value is between $1,000 and $2,000, shoplifting would be a Class 6 felony. A person would also be charged with a Class 6 felony if a firearm was stolen, regardless of its value.
Class 5 Felony
When the value of the stolen merchandise exceeds $2,000, an individual will face Class 5 felony charges. If the shoplifting were committed to promote or assist a gang, it would also be considered a Class 5 felony.
Class 4 Felony
- If the offense is committed while in possession of any device or instrument specifically designed to facilitate shoplifting
- If a person commits shoplifting and has previously committed or been convicted of two or more offenses involving burglary, shoplifting, organized retail theft, or theft within the last five years
What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting?
Shoplifting penalties in Arizona vary depending on whether the conviction is a misdemeanor or a felony. Here is an overview of the potential consequences a shoplifter may face:
- Class 1 misdemeanor. This offense carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
- Class 6 felony. The sentence could include up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000 for a first offense.
- Class 5 felony. The punishment for a Class 5 felony is a maximum prison sentence of 2.5 years and a fine of up to $150,000.
- Class 4 felony. An individual could be sentenced to 3.75 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000 if convicted of a Class 4 felony.
These penalties could be increased significantly if this is not the person’s first offense. In addition, they would face the long-term consequences of a permanent criminal record.