Theft & Grand Theft

A.R.S. §13-1802

What is the Definition?

A person most commonly commits the crime of theft where s/he takes control of another person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property. Petty theft, also known as misdemeanor theft, occurs where the value of the property is one thousand dollars ($1,000) or less.1 Grand theft, also known as felony theft occurs when the value of the property or services taken exceeds one thousand dollars ($1,000).2

What Elements of the Crime Must Be Proven?

In order to find you guilty, the prosecutor must prove that you:

  1. Knowingly;
  2. Without permission or lawful authority;
  3. Committed any one of the following acts:
    1. Controlled anther person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property; or
    2. Used the services or property of another, which was entrusted to you, for an unauthorized term or use; or
    3. Obtained another person’s property by material misrepresentation with the intent to permanently deprive them of that property; or
    4. Appropriated lost or misdelivered property for your own or another’s use, without reasonable efforts to notify the true owner;
    5. Controlled another person’s property, knowing that it was stolen.
What are Some Related Offenses?
  • Shoplifting: You will be charged with this crime when location of the theft takes place in an establishment that offers merchandise for sale.3 Please see our page on Shoplifting for greater detail.
  • Identify Theft
  • Burglary
  • Trespass of Property
  • Property Damage
  • Extortion: You can be charged with this crime where you obtain the property or services from another by threatening that person with physical injury, damage to their property, or the exposure of a secret.4
  • Embezzlement: You can be charged with this crime where a person entrusts either property or a service to you for a certain purpose and you use it in an unauthorized way.5
Can You Give Me an Example?

Safeway Corporate purchased 116 iPads from Apple and placed them in a locked office. An IT Department employee, who was assigned to inventory the iPads to make sure none of them were missing, discovered forty (40) iPads were missing. Thereafter, the Security Manager arranged to have hidden cameras installed in the IT Department over the cubicle and an iPad valued at $799 placed in the same drawer where the previous iPads were found missing in order to identify the thief in case he or she returned. Sure enough, the surveillance video showed a uniformed police officer removing the iPad along with a second iPad from the cubicle’s drawers. The uniformed officer was identified to be the store’s contracted Security Officer. He was arrested and charged by the Maricopa County District Attorney with a Class 2 Theft, also known as Grand Theft, since the value of the property stolen exceeded $25,000.

What Are the Defenses?
  • Lack of Criminal Knowledge: one of the three elements to the crime of theft is that you acted knowingly. Lavy Law’s Phoenix Theft Attorney will do everything we can to show you did not knowingly commit the theft by giving an innocent explanation why property was in your possession.
  • Value Defense: For a felony theft charge, which can range from Class 6 to Class 2, the prosecutor must prove the value of the goods or services beyond a reasonable doubt. This is because the felony theft charges all have threshold amounts upward from $1,000. Lavy Law’s Phoenix Theft Attorney will defend you by proving that the amount of goods or services taken is lower than the amount alleged in the complaint. By doing so, your penalties will be mitigated. Lavy Law will make sure that you are liable for only the actual value of the merchandise taken and nothing more.
  • Constitutional Violations: The police are subject to the 4th Amendment Constitutional protections as soon as they arrive to arrest you and seize the property on you. Lavy Law’s Phoenix Theft Attorney will review the recorded interviews, video surveillance, and other evidence to determine whether the police unlawful detained you or your property, violated your Miranda rights, forced a confession, or had a lack of probable cause to arrest you.
What are the Penalties?

The penalties for a theft charge vary greatly depending on the value of the goods or services taken and whether or not you have a prior criminal record. In general, the penalties include: years of court probation6, jail time, criminal protective order7, restitution to the victim, and standard fines and fees. In addition, your theft conviction can be taken into consideration by the Maricopa District Attorney as a prior to raise your sentence the next time you are accused of theft. Worst of all, the theft conviction will go on your permanent record and affect your future employment, state licensing and other benefits. When the conviction surfaces, the prospective employer or state official character may judge you as untrustworthy.

The most severe form of theft, where the value of goods or services taken is $25,000 or more, is charged as a Class 2 felony and punishable by up to 12.5 years in prison. Prison is mandatory when the value of the goods or services is alleged to be more than $100,000. Although this seems like a high bar, it is easy to reach it where the property stolen involves real estate, deeds, multiple vehicles or services over the course of time.

The least severe is a Class 1 misdemeanor, where the value of goods or services taken is less than $1,000, and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail. The only exception to this rule is if the item stolen is a firearm or animal, in which case the charge will be a class 6 felony.

Crime chargedValue stolenMaximum punishment
Class 2 Felony$25,000 or more12.5 years
Class 3 Felony$4,000 - $24,9998.75 years
Class 4 Felony$3,000 - $3,9993.75 years
Class 5 Felony$2,000 - $2,9992.5 years
Class 6 Felony$1,000 - $1,9992 years
Class 1 Misdemeanor$0 - $9996 months in jail
What are the Immigration Consequences?

Although your criminal defense attorney may be able to get you a good plea deal in Maricopa Superior Court, this plea could cause you devastating consequences in Immigration Court. Any theft related charge is considered to be a crime involving moral turpitude, also known as a CIMT. What are the immigration consequences of a CIMT? Here are two examples: if you are a green card holder who has been convicted of a CIMT since receiving your permanent status, then this additional theft conviction, regardless if it is a misdemeanor, will cost you your green card and cause you to be deported from the United States. Or, if you are a visa holder or undocumented immigrant who is trying to adjust your status to obtain a green card, then this theft conviction could render you inadmissible to the United States and ineligible for permanent residence. Your Lavy Law Phoenix Theft Attorney will make sure that you have a good plea in both the Immigration and Criminal Courts.

1 [1] A.R. S. §13-1802(G)

2 [2] A.R. S. §13-1802(G)

3 [3] A.R.S. §13-1805

4 [4] A.R.S. §13-1804

5 [5] A.R.S. §13-1802(A)(2)

6 [6] Court probation requires you to comply with terms ordered by the judge during a specified time period. The terms differ little from county to county. This probation is also known as informal probation because it is unsupervised- you do not have to report to a probation officer.

7 [7] A criminal protective order is a court order that prevents a person from coming within a certain distance of a location. If you are found at this location, you are in violation of the order and can be arrested. Police officers have a record of your stay away order in the electronic database in their police cars.

Client Reviews
"My experience with Lavy Law was extremely positive. After finding them through a Google search and reaching out to them, Kara Lavy responded soon after, assessed my case and she immediately came up with a collaborative strategy. Ms. Lavy was in close contact while preparing to present our case. The motions she filed on my behalf couldn't have been more thorough while leveraging her relationships with local DA and justice contacts to ensure a smooth process in the courtroom. All motions were granted in my favor, and I offer the highest recommendation to anyone looking for professional, responsive, dedicated and experienced attorney services." Javier M. (San Mateo, CA)
"I am very pleased that I contacted you, and I simply could not have been more pleased with the process and outcome. I am more than delighted in how you were instrumental in bringing my lingering visa issue to a resolution most beneficial to me. Thank you for all your help and highly professional work, and especially for being so trustworthy." JMM (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)