Shoplifting (ARS §13-1805)
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Whether in the Phoenix area, or anywhere in Arizona, per ARS §13-1805 “Shoplifting” can occur in many different ways when a person enters a shop and knowingly obtains goods of another, with the intent to deprive that person (the shop owner) of those goods.
The first way is the typical shoplifting situation: while inside the shop, the defendant removes goods from any place within the establishment without paying for the items. The second way shoplifting can be committed is charging the items to a fictitious person’s account, or to a real person’s account without that person’s authority. Third, paying less than the purchase price of the goods by some trick like altering, removing, or changing the price tag. Fourth, transferring the goods from one container to another, or simply concealing the goods qualifies as “Shoplifting” under the statute.
The statute creates a rebuttable presumption that if the defendant concealed un-purchased items on himself or another person while inside the store, or the defendant used some instrument, container, device or other article to facilitate the shoplifting, that the defendant intended to knowingly shoplift. If the merchant or his employee has “reasonable cause” to believe that someone is shoplifting in their store, they may detain a person in a reasonable manner for a reasonable amount of time for questioning or summoning of law enforcement. This is called the “shopkeepers privilege.” A person who was wrongfully held in the store (i.e. they were not shoplifting) cannot sue the store for unlawful detention or false arrest so long as the shopkeeper, security guard, employee, or police officer had reasonable cause to believe the suspect was shoplifting.
Need a Phoenix Shoplifting Lawyer? Contact DM Cantor if you have been charged with Shoplifting. Call 602-307-0808 for a Free Consultation.
Possible Punishment for Shoplifting
If the items shoplifted have a value of more than $2,000.00, the defendant was shoplifting property during any continuing criminal episode, or was shoplifting property to promote, further, or assist a criminal street gang, then the defendant can be charged with a class five (5) felony. For purpose of the statute a “continuing criminal episode” means theft of property with a value of $1,500.00 or more if committed during at least three separate incidences within a period of ninety (90) consecutive days. A first offense class five (5) felony can carry punishment of probation with zero (0) days up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of six (6) months to two and one half (2.5) years in custody. If the person has one (1) historical allegeable prior felony conviction, then the “prison only” range is one (1) to three and three quarters (3.75) years of incarceration. If the person has two (2) historical allegeable prior felony convictions then the “prison only” range is three (3) years to seven and one half (7.5) years of incarceration.
Shoplifting property with a value of $1,000.00 or more, but less than $2,000.00 is a class six (6) felony. For a first offense a class six (6) felony, punishment can be probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of four (4) months to two (2) years of incarceration. If the person has one (1) allegeable historical felony prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is nine (9) months to two and three quarters (2.75) years in prison. If the person has two (2) allegeable historical felony prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is two and one quarter (2.25) to five and three quarters (5.75) years of incarceration.
Shoplifting property valued at less than $1,000.00 is a class one (1) misdemeanor, unless the property is a firearm in which case the shoplifting is a class six (6) felony. The range of punishment for a class one (1) misdemeanor is anywhere from zero (0) days in jail up to six (6) months in jail, and a fine of up to $2,500.00 and 84% surcharge.
A person who in the course of shoplifting uses an artifice, instrument, container, device or other article with the intent to facilitate shoplifting, or who has in the past five (5) years committed or been convicted of two or more offenses involving burglary, shoplifting, robbery, organized retail theft or theft is guilty of a class four (4) felony. For a first offense class four (4) felony, punishment can be probation with zero (0) days in jail up to one (1) year in jail, or prison of one (1) year to three and three quarters (3.75) years of incarceration. If the person has one (1) allegeable historical prior conviction, then the “prison only” range is two and one quarter (2.25) to seven and one half (7.5) years of incarceration. If the person has two (2) allegeable historical prior convictions, then the “prison only” range is six (6) to fifteen (15) years of incarceration. This particular section of the Shoplifting statute was designed to punish “professional” or “career” shoplifters.
Possible Defenses for Shoplifting
The defense most often seen to Shoplifting is the defendant’s “Lack of Intent”. Under the statute, the defendant is required to have committed the actions with the intent to deprive the shop owner of such goods. If the defendant committed the above actions, but did not intend to deprive the owner of the goods, the defendant cannot be convicted of Shoplifting. The typical situation occurs most often when a shopper has her hands full and momentarily and inadvertently places something in her pocket while juggling other items. This is also seen when the shopper inadvertently walks out of the store while holding the item, completely unaware that they are still holding the item. If possible, we would present evidence showing that the defendant had purchased other items from the store that day, so it can be inferred that they did not intend to steal this item. Logically, it makes no sense to steal one item while paying for many numerous and possibly larger items. Additionally, we would demonstrate the defendant’s ability to pay for the items, and the defendant’s good character, which demonstrates no motive or benefit to the defendant to shoplift.
Another typical defense to Shoplifting is the defendant’s “Lack of Knowledge” of the shoplifting circumstances. This occurs when somebody else has switched the price tags on an item, or placed a different item in another container without the defendant’s knowledge. This can occur when a previous person was attempting to shoplift, but left the store without doing so, but did not return the items to their appropriate price or container. It can also occur when professional shoplifters place stolen items in unsuspecting shoppers bags, only with the intent of “pick-pocketing” those items out of the bag once the unsuspecting shopper gets out of the store. It is important to interview all of the parties present, review all video tapes which may have been in the store, interview store clerks and other shops in the neighborhood to see if there is a pattern of any criminal activity, and also point out the defendant’s good character.
Additionally, because our law firm fights conviction from all angles, we would assert a wide range of defenses and challenges to constitutional violations that apply in all criminal cases. The possibilities are numerous and diverse. One of those we frequently assert is a “Miranda rights violation.” In Arizona, the standard of whether any incriminating statement (i.e., a statement which tends to admit guilt) is admissible into evidence is based upon a “voluntariness” standard. If we can demonstrate that the police coerced you (i.e., intimidated or tricked you) into making a confession or inculpatory statement, or that they did not properly read you your Miranda Rights, then we can suppress those statements and any evidence gathered as a direct result of those statements. In addition, the “denial of right to Counsel” is another common defense which is often raised. This occurs when a suspect is in custody and requests to speak to their attorney, but is denied and questioning continues. Other defenses may include challenging the validity of any search warrant, or whether there were any “forensic flaws” during the investigation of your case. Depending on what else you have been charged with, this could include exposing flawed procedures regarding fingerprints analysis; DNA testing; video analysis; etc.. Lastly, one of the most common defense tactics is exposing sloppy or misleading police reports which include everything from misstatements, false statements, flawed photo line-ups, witness identification procedures, and inaccurate crime scene reconstruction. It is important to hire a skilled Shoplifting lawyer to defend you who has knowledge of all the possible defenses to assert in your case.
It is important to hire an AV® rated law firm (the highest possible rating by Martindale Hubbell®). Also David Michael Cantor is a Phoenix Shoplifting Lawyer and a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, per the Arizona Board of Legal Specialization. In addition, the Firm and all of its lawyers are listed in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. At DM Cantor, the majority of our Attorneys are ex-Prosecutors, and all of our Phoenix Shoplifting Lawyers know the system well. For a Free Initial Consultation, call us at 602-307-0808.
Contact DM Cantor and speak to a Phoenix Shoplifting Lawyer. We will assist you with your Shoplifting case.