In Arizona, A.R.S. §13-805 defines shoplifting in the Phoenix metro area (or anywhere else in Arizona) as being any act in which a person enters a store or retail location and attempts to obtain the goods of the store owner with the intention of depriving the owner of such goods without offering proper compensation for a transaction to take place.
There are three main ways in which a person can be suspected of committing this crime. The first way is by entering the store and leaving with the items and not paying for them through the proper procedure. The second way involves using a false bank account to pay for the items or by using someone else’s account without their consent. The third way a person can be suspected of shoplifting is by altering the price tag or using some other form of trickery to avoid paying full price for the item. Finally, a person who attempts to conceal the goods in some way to avoid paying for them can also be charged with this crime.
The statue also makes it clear through a rebuttal presumption that this crime can be suspected even before a person leaves the store if they make an attempt to conceal the goods on their person, in a container or on the body of another person that could be determined to be a demonstration of intent to shoplift the items. According to the “Shopkeeper’s Privilege”, a store owner or employee has the right to detain someone for further questioning or to await the arrival of law enforcement officers when they have reasonable cause to believe a person was attempting to conceal merchandise.
Potential Punishments for an Attempt to Shoplifting
The punishments for these charges can vary according to the value of the goods that were involved and the intent of the defendant. If a person attempted to shoplift goods that were valued at $2,000 or more, or if the goods were intended to assist a criminal gang, then the charges will be classified as a class five felony. The punishments in this case may include the following:
- Probation with up to one year in jail or
- Six months to two and one-half years in prison
- One to three and three-fourths years in prison for those with one historical allegeable prior felony conviction
- Three to seven and one-half years for those with two or more prior felony convictions
Shoplifted property that is valued between $1,000 and under $2,000 will be classified as a class six felony and includes the possibility of probation with up to 1 year in jail, or up to two years of incarceration in prison for those with no prior convictions. However, those with at least one historical allegeable prior felony conviction could face up to two and three-fourths years in prison.
When the property involved is valued at less than $1,000, it may be classified as a class one misdemeanor. This will still mean that the defendant may face up to six months in jail in addition to a fine of $2,500 plus an 84 percent surcharge.
Potential Defenses Used Against a Shoplifting Charge
The defense we use most often when working with those who have been accused of this charge is to prove that the defendant lacked intent to commit the crime. This often occurs when a patron of a store is busy or has their hands full and inadvertently places an item in their pocket, yet intends to pay once they get to the checkout counter. Another strategy that can be used is to prove that the defendant had already purchased items from the store that day, yet they may have accidentally walked out of the store with an item in their hand. Sometimes, price tags have been changed without a person’s knowledge or they may have been under the impression that they had the authority to use another person’s bank account. In these instances, we can gather evidence that proves that a person did not act with the intent to deprive the store owner of their goods.
If you have been suspected of shoplifting, it is important for you to act quickly so we can investigate the circumstances involved with your charges. At DM Cantor, we have experienced attorneys who have worked as former prosecutors and understand how to defend your case from every angle. If you would like to have a lawyer review your case for free, call us at (602) 307-0808 to schedule a meeting. Our office phone is answered 24 hours a day and you may also use our confidential web form to contact us as well.