Controlling Stolen Property

Lawyer Defending People Charged with Theft Crimes in Phoenix

Prosecutors treat theft crimes seriously in Arizona. Depending on the value of the stolen item, prosecutors may charge the defendant with theft as either a misdemeanor or felony. Arizona defines several different acts as theft, one of which is controlling stolen property. If you were charged with controlling stolen property, you should consult with Phoenix theft crime attorney James Novak.

Controlling Stolen Property

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 13-1802 defines nine different criminal acts as constituting theft. The first is what most people commonly understand as theft: controlling another’s property while intending to deprive the person of it. However, even controlling property that you know is stolen is considered theft.

Under A.R.S. section 13-1802(A)(5), the government needs to prove that: (1) without lawful authority, (2) the defendant knowingly controlled another’s property, (3) while knowing or having reason to know the property was stolen.


Arizona classifies theft according to the fair market value of stolen goods stolen at the time of the theft. In general, the state imposes harsher penalties as the value of the stolen property increases. When a person steals property valued at less than $1,000, the person will be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the value of the stolen property exceeds $1,000, the prosecutor may charge the theft as a felony.

Felonies also have different classes to reflect the seriousness of the offense. Theft is a class 2 felony where the stolen goods have a value of $25,000 or more at the time of the theft. As the most serious felony theft classification, a defendant may face 3-12½ years of incarceration and fines of up to $150,000.

If the goods are worth $4,000 or more but less than $25,000, the theft will be charged as a class 3 felony. A defendant may face 2½-7 years of incarceration for the conviction of a class 3 felony. If the goods are valued at $3,000 or more but less than $4,000, the theft will be charged as a class 4 felony. A defendant convicted of a class 4 felony may face imprisonment for 1½-3 years.

Defenses to Theft Crimes

Even if you have been charged and the prosecutor has amassed evidence against you, a conviction for controlling stolen property is not assured. It’s important to consult an experienced lawyer in Phoenix with a full understanding of the procedural and substantive defenses that may apply to your particular case. The prosecutor has the burden of proving every element of a criminal charge, like controlling stolen property, beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high standard. In some cases, a strong defense may involve poking holes in the prosecution’s case. For example, the defense may be able to prove that you did not know the property was stolen and had no reason to know this; knowledge is a critical element in this charge. In other cases, if the police violated your constitutional rights, the defense may seek to have the evidence suppressed. For example, if during custodial interrogation, the police did not read the Miranda warning to inform you of your right to remain silent, the defense may bring a motion to suppress statements made during interrogation. Under Miranda, when the police are questioning suspects in custody about criminal activity, the officer must inform them of their right to remain silent. When suspects indicate at any time before or during questioning that they want to stay silent, the police must stop the interrogation. Another possible defense may be challenging the value of the stolen property so that a lower fine or term of incarceration applies.

Consult a Seasoned Theft Crime Attorney

If you have been charged with controlling stolen property, you should discuss your circumstances with a seasoned criminal defense lawyer. You may have a basis to challenge the evidence or may have another defense available. Our principal James Novak has many years of experience defending people charged with theft crimes in the Phoenix area including in Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, and Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact him through our online form.

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