Organized Retail Theft

Highly Experienced Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer Committed to Defending Clients Charged With Organized Shoplifting

In Arizona, shoplifting offenses are taken very seriously. In large part, this is because approximately 44 percent of all arrests in the state involve shoplifting. As a result, Phoenix law enforcement has begun taking an increasingly hardline position when it comes to retail theft crimes, especially organized retail theft. However, don’t let the fact that you’ve been charged with a crime prevent you from fighting for your freedom. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our Phoenix organized retail theft lawyer has successfully defended the rights of countless clients facing serious misdemeanor and felony theft crimes, and we look forward to meeting with you to discuss how we can help you fight your case.

What is Organized Retail Theft?

In Arizona, organized retail theft refers to situations where individuals or groups systematically steal merchandise from retail establishments with the intent to resell it for profit. Under Arizona law, this is considered a serious crime and is treated differently than ordinary shoplifting due to its organized nature and the financial impact it has on businesses.

Under Arizona Revised Statutes § 13-18-19, organized retail theft is the act of knowingly obtaining merchandise from a retail establishment with the intent to sell, transfer, distribute, or return the merchandise for value. Organized retail theft also covers using “an artifice, instrument, container, device or other article” to remove goods from a store without paying for them.

What is the Punishment for Organized Retail Theft in Phoenix?

Organized retail theft is classified as a felony in Arizona, and the penalties can be severe. Unlike other shoplifting offenses, the state’s organized retail theft law doesn’t consider the value of the goods that were allegedly stolen. Thus, regardless of the value of the objects, the crime is considered a Class 4 felony.

A Class 4 felony carries a sentence between one and 3.75 years in jail for a first-time offender. However, if you have a prior felony conviction, the range of punishment increases to between 2.25 and 7.5 years.

Defenses to Organized Retail Theft

One of the most common defenses to organized retail theft involves claiming that you were not working as a part of a larger organization. Of course, this defense does nothing to defeat the underlying shoplifting charges, which could still leave you exposed to a significant sentence.

Other than this, many of the defenses to organized retail theft are the same as for a traditional shoplifting case, which include:

  • You Didn’t Mean to Steal: One of the most common defenses against shoplifting charges is that the accused did not have the intent to steal. This defense is based on the claim that you unintentionally walked out of the store with merchandise due to distraction, forgetfulness, or misunderstanding. For example, even law-abiding shoppers occasionally make a mistake and don’t see an item in their cart or forget to give all purchases to the clerk.
  • You Thought You Paid for the Item: This defense contends that the accused genuinely believed that they had the right to possess the item. For example, you might have thought that the item had already been paid for when you walked out of the store. A mistake of fact defense would require showing that you had a reasonable belief that you had a right to take the merchandise.
  • You Actually Owned the Item: This defense claims that the accused actually owned the item or had a right to possess it. For example, this defense could apply if there was a misunderstanding or confusion about the ownership of the item, leading to a false accusation of shoplifting.
  • Law Enforcement Violated Your Rights: This defense focuses on the legality of the arrest or the search that led to the discovery of the stolen items. If law enforcement did not follow the proper legal procedures, such as conducting a search without probable cause or failing to read the accused their rights, the evidence obtained during the illegal search or arrest could be deemed inadmissible in court.
Have You Been Charged With Organized Retail Theft?

If you were recently arrested and charged with organized retail theft, you will almost certainly face a jail sentence unless you beat the case. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our Phoenix organized retail theft lawyer has hands-on experience representing clients charged with this serious crime. We understand the best retail theft defenses and how to use them to minimize—or eliminate—your exposure. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with our Phoenix theft crimes lawyer today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach us through our secure online contact form.

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