Being accused of shoplifting is certainly an embarrassing experience, but it can become much more serious if the business accusing you tries to press charges. In Arizona, shoplifting can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. Whether you’re charged with a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the value of the goods that were taken and whether you have a previous criminal record.

Misdemeanor Charges

If the value of the goods taken is less than $1,000, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. The majority of shoplifting charges in Arizona are misdemeanors, but that doesn’t mean you should take the allegations any less seriously. Even if the value of the goods is more than $1,000, you might be able to plead down to lesser charges so as to avoid higher penalties. In either case, you should consult with a Mesa criminal defense attorney.

When is Shoplifting a Felony in Arizona?

Shoplifting can be a class 4, 5, or 6 felony in the state of Arizona. Using an instrument or device to aid in the shoplifting or having to or more similar convictions (such as theft or burglary) can lead to a class 4 felony charge.

There are three situations in which shoplifting can be classified as a class 5 felony. These include:

  • A shoplifting episode connected to gang activity or gang initiation
  • A shoplifting occurrence considered part of a “continual criminal episode”
  • A shoplifting event where the value of the goods was $2,000 or more

Shoplifting property valued between $1,000 and $2,000 can be charged as a class 6 felony.

Penalties for Shoplifting

For both misdemeanors and felonies, the penalties linked to shoplifting can include fines and community service. The penalties are directly linked to the property value and the circumstances surrounding the shoplifting. Having a felony on your record can significantly impact your ability to get a job or rent a place to live in the future, so you should always speak to a Mesa criminal defense attorney if you discover felony charges pending against you.

If you’re a first time offender, you might be able to have your charges reduced. You could also be eligible for a diversion program, wherein you attend classes in exchange for the conviction being kept off your record. While you might also have to pay additional fines or perform community service, not having the conviction on your record is often the best option to allow you to move forward with your life after the incident.

What To Do When You’re Charged

As you can see, the circumstances of the shoplifting have a major impact on how you’re charged and the penalties you might face. Regardless of whether you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, a Mesa criminal defense attorney can be a vital resources to counsel you about your options and determine whether getting the charges reduced is a possibility. While shoplifting might seem like a minor charge, the outcome of your case can have serious ramifications for your future. Make sure you have someone fighting for that future in court.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Mesa Criminal Attorney, Garrett L. Smith at 480-540-6021 log on to www.mycriminaldefenselawyeraz.com, or contact an attorney in your area.