Facing Theft Charges for Stolen Property in Phoenix, AZ
If you are dealing with theft charges, there is a lot to consider. A theft charge for stolen property valued at more than $1,000 is considered a felony and is a serious charge. Stolen property valued at less than $1,000 is a misdemeanor theft, but it can still mean harsh consequences and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having a private lawyer to consult with and guide you with their understanding of the laws and how the court will apply them to your case will be beneficial in optimizing the outcome of your case.
Ryan Garvey Attorneys has experience representing individuals in Phoenix who have been charged with theft. The thorough and aggressive approach our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys take with every client on every case has garnered our firm countless success stories in the courtroom and dozens of awards. With more than 50 years of collective legal proficiency and experience among us, we can be beneficial to your case.
What Is Considered Theft in Phoenix?
Arizona law defines theft crimes in seven capacities. The different types of theft are detailed below.
An individual is guilty of theft when:
- They take control of someone else’s property with the intention of keeping the property and not giving it back.
- They use something that belongs to someone else without their permission, potentially altering, destroying, or using it up.
- They gain information, services, or property that does not belong to them by means of lying or falsifying information when entrusted not to do so.
- They receive or come across someone else’s property that was misplaced, lost, or improperly delivered, and even though they could have tried to find the owner, they kept the property for themselves (e.g., finding someone’s wallet and not attempting to return it or receiving your neighbor’s package and keeping it rather than giving it to them).
- They take possession of someone else’s property, knowing it is stolen property, and not returning it to its owner, but rather keep it for themselves.
- They receive services that cost money from someone but do not pay for them (e.g., leaving a restaurant without paying the bill).
- They are entrusted to care for someone, such as an elderly person or handicapped individual, and con them out of their property, money, or other assets without their permission and with the intention of keeping it rather than giving the property back.This also meets the criteria of financial exploitation.
Various Levels of Theft in Phoenix, AZ
There are varying degrees of theft charges that Phoenix prosecutors may charge you with if you were arrested for theft.
Misdemeanor Theft in Phoenix, AZ
The least of potential theft charges in Phoenix is a misdemeanor theft charge, also referred to as petty theft. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This applies to acts of theft in which the items stolen are valued at less than $1,000. There is a one-year statute of limitations on a misdemeanor theft charge, which means if you committed theft, you could be charged for the next year beginning on the date the theft occurred. Thus, if you committed theft within the last year, you should talk to a Phoenix theft lawyer, so you know what to do if you get arrested. You may think you got away with the crime, but facial recognition security cameras, eyewitnesses, and a number of other potential tells can surface. Preparing in advance can make a big difference in your defense later.
Possible penalties for misdemeanor theft charges in Phoenix include:
- Facing a maximum $2,500 fine
- Serving up to six months in jail
- Paying for the stolen property (restitution)
- Getting up to three years of probation
- Attending classes
Felony Theft in Phoenix, AZ
Felony theft charges are significantly more complicated and harder to fight in court, especially without an experienced Phoenix theft attorney to provide legal advice based on past outcomes of closed cases. A felony theft occurs when the stolen property is valued at more than $1,000; however, there are graduated felony classes that increase in the severity of punishment as the value of stolen property increases. Here is a breakdown of theft amounts as they relate to class felonies and their respective maximum sentences:
- $1,000-$2,000 in stolen property: Class 6 felony theft; probation or four months to two years in prison
- $2,000-$3,000 in stolen property: Class 5 felony theft; probation or six months to 2.5 years in prison
- $3,000-$4,000 in stolen property: Class 4 felony theft; probation or one to 3.75 years in prison
- $4,000-$25,000 in stolen property: Class 3 felony theft; probation or two to 8.5 years in prison
- $25,000 and above in stolen property: Class 2 felony theft; probation or three to 12.5 years in prison, unless the amount exceeds $100,000, for which prison is the only option and the person is not eligible for probation
Statute of Limitations for Felony Theft in Phoenix, AZ
The statute of limitations for a felony theft charge is seven years. This means an individual can press charges for felony theft for up to seven years following the date the theft occurred. If you think you may get arrested for felony theft related to an event that occurred in the last seven years, whether you are guilty or not, it won’t hurt your case to talk confidentially to a private theft defense attorney to discuss potential scenarios if charges are pressed against you.
A theft crimes attorney can also discuss potential sentences and legal defense options you might have in the event you are arrested. Knowing exactly what you could be up against and what you could be charged with, as well as the consequences of those charges and potential outcomes, will better prepare you and your attorney to approach your case from the angle that can provide the most favorable outcome possible if you do get arrested.
Collateral Consequences of Theft Convictions
There are additional punishments that are a result of a theft conviction. Collateral consequences that equate to an individual having a corrupt or depraved moral aptitude can be quite substantial. When convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT), there are additional effects that can occur, some of which are far greater than the court system imparts. Examples of collateral consequences of a CIMT charge include:
- Loss of professional licenses. Doctors, surgeons, physicians, lawyers, accountants, insurance salespersons, stockbrokers, or any other professional for which licensure is required must report any charges or convictions constituting illegal and immoral actsto their respective professional licensing boards. This is required even if the charges were dropped.
- Deportation. Immigrants who are convicted of theft face potential deportation, though factors such as details of the crime, time frame, offense, and history of the defendant may deter deportation.
- Employment blacklisting. Anyone with a theft charge on their record will likely be denied any position or employment that requires handling money or operating a cash register—even a grocery store or other business in which the exchange of cash is frequent. Other jobs in which a position requires access to high-value goods or merchandise may also be out of the question for those convicted of theft.
- Security clearance. Most security checks will flag anyone with a theft charge who is attempting to obtain security clearance, such as government clearance for government jobs, as well as contract jobs at the state and federal levels, which typically only allow non-convicted employees to be hired.
- Volunteer positions. Any volunteer position that requires a background check will likely not allow anyone with a theft conviction on their background report to volunteer, especially if it requires contact with money or children, such as within a school or community group.
- DPS fingerprint clearance. A theft conviction can cause your DPS fingerprint card to be suspended, though if you have a valid reason, you may be able to receive an exception.
- Lenders. Most lenders will not extend a line of credit to anyone with a theft conviction in their criminal history report. Applications for loans such as home mortgage loans, small business loans, and educational loans require felony theft convictions to be indicated upfront, and this usually results in a denial of the application.
Criminal Defense Options for Theft Charges in Phoenix, AZ
There are options for defendants facing theft charges in Phoenix. Some of the most common and successful defenses to theft include:
- Unreliable investigation and discrediting evidence and witnesses. This defense goes after the police officers’ investigative tactics and the reliability of their investigation results. It also breaks down the relevance of any evidence, both preserved and unpreserved. This defense involves dismantling the prosecution’s case, including the credibility of witnesses, witness statements, and the appraisal of the items stolen. There also may be police report or record-keeping errors that can disqualify their case against you.
- Knowledge and mental capacity. To get a conviction, the prosecution must prove the defendant knew certain details and/or possessed an intention to consciously do or not do specific things in carrying out the theft. Disqualifying the prosecution’s ability to exhibit proof of the defendant’s knowledge and motive of the alleged theft sometimes helps reduce charges or gets cases dismissed.
- Mistaken identity from eyewitnesses. If eyewitness testimony identification is the key determining factor in the prosecution’s case, the defense can potentially use mistaken identity to get charges reduced or dropped.It may be viable to discredit eyewitness testimony because this is arguably the most unreliable type of evidence. Mistaken identity can be a strong defense strategy in theft cases.
- Mere presence. This defense aims at proving the defendant was merely present at the time of and at the scene of the crime but not actually involved in the criminal act.
- Challenging the constitution. Defending the rights of their clients is one of the main objectives of an attorney. If it is discovered that the defendant’s right to counsel or Miranda rights were violated or an illegal search and seizure was conducted, this becomes an easy way to get charges reduced or dropped.
- Reduced value. It is sometimes useful to argue a reduced value of the stolen property when the prosecution claims stolen property or services equaled a specific dollar amount. This can get the violation reduced according to the classes of felony or misdemeanor charges outlined above.
There are other defense strategies that may apply to your case with more potential to reduce your charges or sentence or get your case dismissed. A Phoenix criminal attorney who is well-versed in state laws is the most formidable resource you can have in obtaining an advantageous outcome for your case.
Dismissal Through Negotiation
While having an experienced lawyer who can represent you is a big advantage, having a criminal defense lawyer who is skilled in negotiating is even better. These are some of the common methods for achieving dismissal through negotiation:
- Misdemeanor compromise. In some situations, an aggressive attorney can negotiate a compromise with the plaintiff in a misdemeanor theft case. For instance, if an agreement can be made to repay the stolen property for the charges being dropped, oftentimes, the plaintiff will go for it, and the defendant can avoid certain or all consequences of the charges. It is important, though, to have a representative acting for the defendant, such as an experienced theft lawyer, victim advocate, judge, or prosecutor, since the defendant is not allowed to contact the victim by law — and doing so can lead to accusations of witness tampering, which will not be good for the case.
- Agreement of diversion. A diversion agreement is also referred to as a deferred prosecution agreement. This is a plea agreement in which the prosecution promises to dismiss the charges once the defendant has successfully met the required conditions of the agreement, such as attending a class, working to repay the value of the stolen property, or participating in community service.
Get in Touch With Our Phoenix Theft Attorneys Today
If you are facing charges for theft in Phoenix, whether for burglary, auto theft, or another theft offense, get in touch with us at Ryan Garvey Attorneys. We can answer your questions and advise you on your legal options regarding your case. If you are going to trial, we can represent you. We will litigate aggressively on your behalf and increase the chances of a better outcome than you might get with a public defender. Contact the theft defense lawyers at Ryan Garvey Attorneys today.