Theft is generally defined as the taking of another person’s property without his or her consent. In this broad sense, the term theft is often used to refer to specific types, including burglary, robbery, or larceny. More specifically, burglary involves taking someone’s possessions through entering their home or property without consent, while robbery is taking of a person’s possessions from them by force. Robbery is often considered the most serious type of theft, as it involves directly harming, threatening, or otherwise coming into contact with a person to steal their property.
In many cases, larceny is used interchangeably with theft, despite the differences between the two. Theft, being the broader term, is defined as taking a person’s possessions without permission for the purposes of using or selling those possessions.
Theft may not always refer to tangible objects, either. When someone’s private information is stolen, allowing access to personal records and private accounts, the crime being committed is not larceny, but identity theft. Larceny is a specific type of theft, defined as taking a person’s property without permission for personal use. Stealing a watch from a jewelry store for the purposes of wearing it every day would constitute larceny.
While all forms of stealing property are considered as theft, there are generally gradations of theft recognized by courts of law. Petty theft or petty larceny is the theft of objects or property totaling less than $500 in value. Stealing food from a grocery store would typically be considered petty larceny. In the United States, the specific punishments for crimes of theft are left to the state’s jurisdiction. In some cases, especially when a large amount of money or possessions was stolen, the federal government will become involved.
In the state of Arizona, theft of any property amounting to less than $1,000 is considered misdemeanor theft, constituting a maximum punishment of six months in jail. As the amount stolen rises, so do the charges. Theft of property valued between $1,000 and $2,000 could carry a maximum prison sentence of two years and will be counted on the perpetrator’s criminal record as a class 6 felony. Between $2,000 and $3,000 is a class 5 felony with a 2.5 year maximum prison stay. Between $3,000 and $4,000 carries a maximum 3.75 years and is classified as a class 5 felony.
Any amount of stolen property totaling more than $4,000 and less than $25,000 is considered a class 3 felony, and the perpetrator faces a maximum of 8.75 years in prison. In Arizona, any amount stolen exceeding $25,000 dollars is a class 2 felony, the most serious charge possible for theft. A class 2 felony can carry a maximum of 12.5 years in prison, and a prison term is mandatory, without parole, if the amount stolen exceeds $100,000.
Aside from these legal and punitive consequences, theft carries a number of consequences even after jail time has been served. Once theft has been committed, the charges are permanently attached to the perpetrator’s criminal history and will affect the rest of his or her life. Employers are far less likely to hire a person with a criminal history, and apartments and other housing options may reject the applications of people with criminal histories. Credit companies will reject loan requests, and it will become incredibly difficult for a person to correct their life after a jail sentence.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for theft in the State of Arizona, hire high quality criminal defense lawyers for your trial. Our Phoenix theft crime attorney Scott Stewart at the Stewart Law Group for more information. Attorney Scott Stewart can formulate strategies to determine the extent of damage and how you might atone for your mistakes with as little jail time as possible.