Arizona’s criminal shoplifting law is similar to those of many other states. Shoplifting is a type of theft crime that 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.
When someone enters a retail store during business hours and knowingly obtains some item without paying for it, then that is shoplifting. A.R.S. § 25-1805. The merchant could be a convenience store, for example, or clothing boutique, big-box store, or resale shop so long as it is a commercial business operation where merchandise is displayed and sold. With the exception of the involvement of a firearm, the nature of the item is less significant than its value.
Intent to deprive the merchant of its goods is an essential element of the crime. There is no way to accidentally or unintentionally shoplift, as when someone is holding a six-pack, gets distracted talking to a neighbor, and unthinkingly walks out the door without paying. (Turn around, go back into the store, and pay for the goods.)
If an intentional act, then any of the following could result in a shoplifting charge:
If you or someone you care about has been charged, then immediately consult a criminal defense lawyer. A strong legal defense begins with the events immediately surrounding the arrest, long before any criminal trial commences.
Shoplifting is theft. The wrongful act involves stealing items of value from a store or other place of commerce. These acts range from swiping a $2 candy bar at a convenience store to stealing a firearm from a gun store. Changing price tags to obtain something for less is also considered shoplifting. Whether you’ve been arrested or charged with shoplifting in Surprise, Glendale, or some other suburb of Phoenix, our experienced team can help.
A wide range of punishments can be levied to fit the severity of the illegal act. Some punishments match that associated with simple theft or larceny. In many instances, taking goods without paying happens accidentally, unintentionally, as when a shopper puts a case of soda in the bottom of the grocery cart and simply forgets to pay for it. If the shopper is stopped before leaving, he or she is usually directed back to the cashier to pay for the item. No hassle, no criminal charge. However, a shopper may be punished to the full extent of the law for the same mistake at a different store.
In Arizona, the charge and associated punishment if convicted will depend upon the value of the items obtained in the theft. Take a closer look:
Be mindful that criminal penalties are subject to change. Always talk to your lawyer about the current status of the law and possible sentencing.
A misdemeanor or felony conviction could result in jail or prison, lengthy probation, community restitution, and hefty criminal fines. (The judge could order “public service” in addition to, or in lieu of, any fines.) For more information about the punishment associated with theft convictions, visit our general discussion on theft crimes under Arizona law.
Shoplifting in Arizona can be a double-edged sword. There is criminal liability for a misdemeanor or felony. And there is civil liability for the damages. Separate from the criminal case brought by the prosecutor, any adult who shoplifts can be sued in civil court by the merchant who was harmed by the unlawful act. Civil penalties include the retail value of the lifted items; and a minimum of $250, not to exceed $250 plus actual damages.
If the shoplifter is an emancipated minor, then the first penalty is an amount equal to the retail value of the lifted items; and a minimum of $100, not to exceed $100 plus actual damages, as the second penalty. A.R.S. § 12-691.
Minors sometimes view shoplifting as a rite of passage, a cheap thrill without consequences. Not so, especially for parents and legal guardians. The minor may not be held criminally responsible, but the merchant has the right to sue the parents or the legal guardian in civil court for recovery from the child’s malicious or willful misconduct, up to $10,000 in damages (A.R.S. § 12-661). Furthermore, the merchant may sue the parents or legal guardian for a penalty equal to the retail value of the goods; and, additionally, sue for a minimum penalty of $100, but not more than $100 plus the actual damages. A.R.S. 12-692.
Arizona’s criminal shoplifting law states that a person is presumed to have knowingly obtained goods with the intent to deprive the owner of them if he or she:
As you can see, this is no small matter. It is a serious theft crime with substantial penalties. Take action. Reach out to Scott David Stewart for help in obtaining the best possible outcome in your case. He is a former prosecutor and an experienced criminal trial lawyer. He carefully prepares a strategy for every phase of the criminal case. Through pre-charge investigation, arraignment, plea negotiation, trial, and sentencing if the charge is not dismissed or resolved by a plea agreement. Trust him.
“Robert Howard is an outstanding attorney and asset to the Stewart Law Group. He and his team were always available, timely in their responses to my questions, and very understanding of this difficult time in my life. Mr. Howard is extremely knowledgeable and professional. He proactively managed case details while always being mindful of the big picture and my future well being. With heartfelt gratitude, I commend Mr. Howard for his expert advocacy and I recommend him without hesitation.”
Deborah G, September 2018, Rating: 5/5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐