Arizona Theft vs. Burglary vs. Shoplifting

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If you’re facing a theft charge in Arizona, it’s essential to know the difference between theft, burglary, and shoplifting.

Arizona has specific laws governing these crimes, and understanding them can help you build a strong defense.

This post will outline these charges and the penalties associated with them.

CHM Law can help build you a strong defense if you are facing a theft, burglary, or shoplifting charge.

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The Differences Between Theft, Burglary, and Shoplifting




Theft Overview

The first charge, and the most common in Arizona, is theft.

Many times, there may be confusion about theft vs. larceny.

The difference between the two is that larceny is the physical taking of property, while theft involves the general act of the crime.

Often, a court may use theft and larceny interchangeably depending on the circumstances and if it can be proven. When the distinction between theft and larceny is challenging to pinpoint, the general term theft will typically be used.

By committing theft, a person is engaging in an act that involves taking possession of someone else’s property without permission.

The Arizona law governing theft is ARS 13-1802, which states that there must be proof of a person conducting unlawful seizure of property belonging to others.

In addition, it may involve using property beyond the authorized short-term period and keeping it for an extended duration, which is considered unauthorized conversion and a form of theft.

If someone knowingly engages in any of the following actions, it can also be considered as substantiating theft:

Intentionally control someone else’s property with the aim of depriving them of ownership.
Convert or use someone else’s property or services beyond the agreed-upon limited period without permission.
Obtain property or services from someone through fraudulent misrepresentation.
Come into possession of lost property that could be returned to its rightful owner but make no reasonable attempt to do so.
Knowingly control property that was stolen from someone else.
Obtain services that require payment without making the necessary payment.

Theft Charge Classification

The penalty for a theft charge varies depending on the property’s value.

The classifications are as follows:

Class 1 Misdemeanor: For property valued at less than $1,000
Class 6 Felony: For property valued at over $1,000 but less than $2,000
Class 5 Felony: For property valued at over $2,000 but less than $3,000
Class 4 Felony: For property valued at over $3,000 but less than $4,000
Class 3 Felony: For property valued at over $4,000 but less than $25,000
Class 2 Felony: For property valued at over $25,000

Although the ARS 13-1802 law can seem confusing during the sentencing phase, first-time offenders may receive a similar punishment as outlined below:

Class 1 Misdemeanor: Up to 6 months in jail or at least 3 years probation.
Class 6 Felony: Up to 2 years in prison or at least 3 years probation.
Class 5 Felony: Up to 2 ½ years in prison or at least 3 years probation.
Class 4 Felony: Up to 4 years in prison or at least 4 years probation.
Class 3 Felony: Up to 8 ½ years in prison or at least 5 years probation.
Class 2 Felony: Up to 12 years in prison or at least 7 years probation.

Understanding that the presence of criminal history may result in an increase in the penalty ranges is crucial.

When the value is at least $100,000, and it is determined that a person was in control of the property and planned to deprive another, there will be no possibility of parole. The person will go directly to prison for a determined amount of time.

Having any of the above felony theft charges will never go away and becomes a permanent record.

This will make your ability to enjoy certain freedoms much more complex, such as obtaining loans, a job, or even a license.

You may also experience a financial setback in fines. Also, you may need to provide restitution if convicted.


Shoplifting Overview

Under ARS 13-1805, shoplifting charges can be proven if the alleged person physically takes merchandise with the intent to deprive the business of its value.

Shoplifting is a type of theft that occurs when someone takes merchandise from a store without paying for it.

Shoplifting charges are also classified based on the value of the stolen merchandise, the method used, and what the stolen item is.

The shoplifter must be seen:

Having physical possession of items and exiting the business, and not paying
Being unauthorized to make a purchase and keeping the items for themselves
Manipulating the price of an item to pay a lower amount
Concealing items within other items

Shoplifting Offenses

Class 1 Misdemeanor: For property valued at less than $1,000
Class 6 Felony: For property valued at over $1,000 but less than $1,999.99

Class 6 Felony while armed: The property value must be less than $1,000

Class 5 Felony: For property valued at over $2,000 or an episode that occurs over three months
Class 4 Felony: A person who uses a tool or any other object to facilitate shoplifting or has previously committed two or more offenses within the past five years involving shoplifting, theft, burglary, robbery, or organized retail theft, while committing shoplifting.

If the offender has no prior offenses, they may face any of the following penalties:

Class 1 Misdemeanor: Up to 6 months in jail, probation for 3 years, and a $2,500 fine
Class 6 Felony: Up to 2 years in prison, probation for 3 years, and a $150,000 fine
Class 5 Felony: Up to 2.5 years in prison, probation lasting 3 years, and a fine of $150,000
Class 4 Felony: Up to 3.75 years in prison, probation for 3.75 years, and a fine of $150,000

The penalties may be more severe for offenders with a criminal history.

Burglary Overview

Burglary involves illegal entry into a building or structure with the intent to commit a theft or felony.

It’s important to understand the distinction between theft and burglary. Theft involves taking someone’s property without using force, whereas burglary involves illegally entering a location to commit theft.


Third-Degree Burglary

Third-degree burglary is governed by ARS 13-1506

In order to be charged with third-degree burglary, it must be proven that unlawful entry was made into a building or location and that there was intent to conduct theft.

Burglary in the third degree involves two scenarios:

Intentionally breaking into a non-residential building or a fenced commercial or residential yard with the intent to steal or do anything else that is considered a felony.
Using a manipulation key or master key to get into any part of a car with the intent to steal or commit any other type of felony in the car.

Third-degree burglary is classified as a Class 4 Felony.

It carries a possible prison sentence of between 1 and 3.75 years, with probation lasting 4 years and a $150,000 fine.

When there is a history of felony charges, the sentencing may become even harsher.


Second-Degree Burglary

Second-degree burglary is governed by ARS 13-1507.

Second-degree burglary occurs when the offender has entered unlawfully into a residence and remains for a period of time to commit a felony or theft of property.

A second-degree burglary charge is classified as a Class 3 Felony, with a prison term of 2-8.75 years, probation lasting 5 years, and a possible $150,000 fine.


First-Degree Burglary

First-degree burglary is governed by ARS 13-1508.

First-degree burglary involves elements of both second and third-degree burglary and includes possessing a weapon or explosives while the crime is being committed.

Since a weapon is involved during the crime, it can be proven that it is a crime that is considered dangerous in nature.

If the felony is considered dangerous in nature, then probation will not be a possible outcome.

Instead, burglary with a weapon is charged as a Class 2 Felony, and there is a prison sentence of between 7 and 21 years.

If the crime is not considered a dangerous felony, then first-degree burglary is classified as a Class 3 Felony.

The prison sentence is between 2 and 7 years, and probation lasts 5 years. There may be a fine of $150,000 for any of these felony charges.

Finding The Best Defense For Shoplifting Charges, Theft Charges, and Burglary Charges

If you are facing shoplifting, theft, or burglary charges, it is essential to have the best defense possible to protect your rights and defend your case.

Every case is unique, so it is important to have a skilled defense attorney who can carefully evaluate the circumstances of your case to determine the best course of action.

With their expertise and experience in the legal system, a skilled defense team can help you navigate the complex legal process, minimize potential penalties, and protect future opportunities.

CHM Law Can Build a Defense Suited For You

When searching for a criminal defense lawyer, finding an attorney with experience handling burglary, theft, and shoplifting charges is important. This knowledge will allow a defense attorney to build a personalized defense based on your unique circumstance.

Thankfully, the attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta have decades of real experience in handling such matters and a proven track record of success in all types of theft, burglary, and shoplifting cases.

Give the legal team at CHM Law a call now at (602) 825-2500, so they can immediately get started on helping you build your defense.


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