In Arizona, a person commits theft by knowingly taking or converting another's property or services without authorization and with intent to deprive that person of their property or services. Theft can occur by a physical action, misrepresentation, or deceit. It's also theft to take control of lost property without using reasonable efforts to notify the true owner.
Similar to other states, Arizona classifies theft offenses by the value of the property or services stolen, and in some cases, the type of property stolen (regardless of its value). Arizona law divides theft offenses into six offense levels, ranging from a class 1 misdemeanor up to a class 2 felony.
Felony sentencing. Arizona law has different sentencing ranges based on an offender's felony record. For purposes of this article, we will list the presumptive (typical) sentence for a first felony offense and the maximum possible sentence (generally imposed only for the most serious, repeat offenders). (See Sections 13-702 and 13-703 in Arizona's statutes for more information.)
Felony probation. In some cases, the judge will order a sentence but suspend it and instead place the defendant on probation. If the defendant complies with the probation terms, they might avoid prison time altogether or serve a shorter jail term. However, the judge can revoke probation and send the defendant to prison for a violation of the probation terms.
Felony fines and restitution. The maximum fine amount for any felony in Arizona is $150,000. In addition, the court may order that all or a portion of the fine be paid as restitution to the victim to compensate for their losses.
Theft of property or services with a value of $25,000 or more is a class 2 felony under Arizona law. A conviction for a class 2 felony carries a five-year presumptive sentence for a first offense and a maximum sentence of 35 years. If the amount stolen is valued at more than $100,000, the person is ineligible for a suspended sentence, probation, pardon, or early release.
Theft of property or services with a value of more than $4,000 but less than $25,000 is a class 3 felony in Arizona. The presumptive sentence for a first-time felon is three and a half years. The maximum sentence is 25 years.
Theft of property or services valued at more than $3,000 but less than $4,000 is a class 4 felony. It's also a class 4 felony to steal a vehicle engine or transmission, regardless of its value. A class 4 felony in Arizona carries a presumptive sentence of two and a half years for a first felony and a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Theft of property or services valued at more than $2,000 but less than $3,000 is a class 5 felony. A person convicted of a class 5 felony faces a presumptive sentence of one and a half years for a first offense and a maximum sentence of seven and a half years.
If the theft involved property or services valued at a $1,000 or more but less than $2,000, the offense is a class 6 felony in Arizona. It's also considered a class 6 felony to steal a firearm or animal for purposes of fighting the animal, even if the value is less than $1,000. A class 6 felony carries a presumptive sentence of one year for a first offense and a maximum sentence of five years and nine months.
The theft of any property or services valued at less than $1,000 is a class 1 misdemeanor, which is the lowest-level theft offense under Arizona law (sometimes known as "petty theft"). A person convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor faces up to six months of jail time and a fine of not more than $2,500. However, if it's the person's second conviction for misdemeanor theft in two years, the penalty increases to a class 6 felony sentence (see penalties above).
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 13-702 to -707, 13-801 to -804, 13-1802 (2020).)
Stealing merchandise from a store can result in criminal and civil penalties. Civil penalties are meant to deter shoplifters and compensate store owners for the costs incurred to prevent and "prosecute" (sue) shoplifters.
The criminal penalties for shoplifting range from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 4 felony. The sentencing ranges are the same as listed above for theft.
Class 1 misdemeanor. Shoplifting merchandise valued at less than $1,000 is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Class 6 felony. Anyone who shoplifts between $1,000 and $2,000 worth of merchandise faces a class 6 felony. Stealing a firearm with a value under $1,000 also constitutes a class 6 felony.
Class 5 felony. Shoplifting merchandise valued at $2,000 or more is a class 5 felony. It's also a class 5 felony to shoplift:
Class 4 felony. A person who uses any type of tool, device, or container to shoplift or defeat theft prevention measures commits a class 4 felony. Repeat offenders who've been convicted in the past five years of two or more offenses for shoplifting, theft, robbery, burglary, or organized retail theft also face class 4 felony penalties.
In addition to criminal penalties, a person who commits shoplifting in Arizona is liable to the store owner for the following civil damages:
If a minor commits a shoplifting offense, his or her parent or legal guardian can be held liable to the store owner for actual damages, a penalty in the amount of the retail value of the merchandise, and an additional penalty of at least $100. (Foster parents are not liable under this section.)
(Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 12-691, 12-692, 13-1805 (2020).)
If you face theft or shoplifting charges, speak to a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can protect your rights, help you navigate the criminal justice system, and explain any consequences of a plea deal or criminal record. Even if the charges are for petty or misdemeanor theft, the consequences of a criminal record can impact your ability to get employment, housing, or loans. It's best to consult an attorney before accepting any type of plea deal or civil settlement (in the case of shoplifting).