What is Theft in Arizona?

Theft, as defined by A.R.S. § 13-1802(the Arizona theft statute), can be committed in various ways. Depending on the value of the property that was stolen, theft can be charged as a simple misdemeanor but can also be as a serious as a class 2 felony. This means that, depending on the circumstances of the crime, a person convicted of theft may receive probation or over a decade in prison. But there are numerous ways theft charges can be defended, and if you or a loved one has been arrested for theft in Arizona, having an experienced and aggressive defense attorney on your side is essential. With the right strategy, there is a chance that theft charges may be lowered or dismissed entirely.

A.R.S. § 13-1802 Defined

Under Arizona’s theft law,

A person commits theft if, without lawful authority, the person knowingly:

  • (1) Controls property of another with the intent to deprive the other person of such property; or
  • (2) Converts for an unauthorized term or use services or property of another entrusted to the defendant or placed in the defendant’s possession for a limited, authorized term or use; or
  • (3) Obtains services or property of another by means of any material misrepresentation with intent to deprive the other person of such property or services; or
  • (4) Comes into control of lost, mislaid or misdelivered property of another under circumstances providing means of inquiry as to the true owner and appropriates such property to the person’s own or another’s use without reasonable efforts to notify the true owner; or
  • (5) Controls property of another knowing or having reason to know that the property was stolen; or
  • (6) Obtains services known to the defendant to be available only for compensation without paying or an agreement to pay the compensation or diverts another’s services to the person’s own or another’s benefit without authority to do so.

Penalties for Theft

Theft can be charged in a wide variety of ways. It can be classified as a misdemeanor or even as high as a class 2 felony, primarily depending on the value of the property stolen:

Class 2 felony: $25,000+

  • First Time Offender: 3 to 12.5 years in prison
  • Second Felony Conviction: 4.5 to 23 years
  • Third Felony Conviction: 10.5 to 35 years

Class 3 felony: $4,000 – $25,000

  • First Time Offender: 2 to 8.75 years
  • Second Felony Conviction: 4.5 to 16.25 years
  • Third Felony Conviction: 7.5 to 25 years

Class 4 felony: $3,000 – $4,000

  • First Time Offender: 1 to 3.75 years
  • Second Felony Conviction: 2.25 to 7.5 years
  • Third Felony Conviction: 6 to 15 years

Class 5 felony: $2,000 – $3,000

  • First Time Offender: .5 to 2.5 years
  • Second Felony Conviction: 1 to 3.75 years
  • Third Felony Conviction: 3 to 7.5 years

Class 6 felony: $1,000 – $2,000

  • First Time Offender: .33 to 2 years
  • Second Felony Conviction: .75 to 2.75 years
  • Third Felony Conviction: 2.25 to 5.75 years

Class 1 misdemeanor: Less than $1,000

  • Up to $2,500 in fines;
  • Up to 6 months’ jail.

Defenses to Theft

  • Lack of Intent: Under Arizona’s theft statute, a person commits theft if they take another’s property “with the intent” to deprive the other person of that property. However, what is known as a “mistake a fact” may occur in various situations where the so-called theft is actually unintentional. If the intent element of theft cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then a theft charge should not hold up to a jury.

Example: A person takes his coat off at a party, and when he leaves, he retrieves what he believes to be his coat but is in fact somebody’s else’s although it looks very similar. The person here did not intend to deprive the other person of the coat or its contents, and the mere fact that an accident occurred in identifying the coat does not constitute a crime under Arizona’s theft law.

  • Consent: Another common defense to theft charges is that the owner of the property gave consent to the defendant to use the property. This is typically seen in situations where there is a pre-existing relationship between the defendant and the alleged “victim” such as roommates, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. The victim may have originally lent the defendant property, but then when the relationship goes bad the victim may now accuse the defendant of stealing the property. The police find the property in the defendant’s possession and the defendant may not even deny that the property belongs to the victim, but the fact that the victim gave the defendant consent to possess the property may negate the elements of the theft charge.
  • Property Was a Gift: If the theft charge involves an allegation that the victim is a vulnerable adult, there is a statutory defense to a theft charge if the victim gives a gift to the defendant that is consistent with a pattern of gift giving from the victim to the defendant that occurred prior to the victim becoming a vulnerable adult.

How Salwin Law Can Help You

If you’ve been charged with theft, an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Salwin Law Group can help you with your case today. Stewart Salwin provides free consultations on criminal charges. Call today to see how we can help you get the best possible defense to your charges.

Call Salwin Law Group PLLC today at (480) 702-1789, or contact us online to make your appointment.