Theft can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, petty theft is a misdemeanor, and the penalties are less severe. However, over the years, if you accumulate multiple petty theft convictions, it may influence a larger theft charge. James E. Novak is formed prosecutor and experienced Phoenix theft crime attorney who may be able to represent you if you have been arrested for petty theft or another offense.Petty Theft
In Arizona, prosecutors can pursue theft charges under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 13-802 when someone perpetrates a theft crime by knowingly and illegally doing one of these actions: (1) controlling someone’s property with the intention of depriving them of property, (2) using another’s services or property for an unauthorized time period, (3) getting someone else’s property and services via material misrepresentation such as fraud, (4) controlling lost property without reasonably trying to find its owner, (5) controlling stolen property, or (6) getting compensable services without agreeing to pay or paying for the services.
Theft is divided into different levels based on the value of the property that’s stolen. Petty theft is the lowest level of theft of property or services, and it is a class 1 misdemeanor. It applies when the services or property that are stolen are worth less than $1000.
When the property is taken directly from somebody, however, the petty theft may be classified as a class 6 felony under A.R.S. section 13-1802G, even if the property is worth less than $1000. For example, if you mugged someone on the street and took his laptop, you could be charged with a class 6 felony. A class 6 felony can also be charged when the stolen property is a firearm or an animal taken for the purpose of fighting other animals.Penalties and Prior Convictions
You can be incarcerated for up to six months and fined up to $2500 if you’re convicted of ordinary petty theft if it’s charged as a misdemeanor. Prior convictions can change the calculus for sentencing. When you don’t have a prior felony conviction, you will likely receive the presumptive sentence for petty theft. The prosecutor may, however, argue that there are specific aggravating factors that justify the court imposing a sentence greater than the presumptive one.
Likewise, you may argue that there are mitigating factors that justify a briefer sentence than the presumptive one. Generally, the presumptive sentence for a class 6 felony petty theft is one year. However, if the prosecutor successfully makes the argument that there were aggravating factors in your petty theft, you could receive a maximum sentence of two years. If you successfully made the argument that there are mitigating factors in your case, you could receive four months of incarceration. A seasoned criminal defense lawyer can help you strategize with regard to minimizing the sentence you may be facing after a conviction.Other Consequences of a Petty Theft Conviction
If you are convicted of petty theft, you may not face only incarceration, but a judge may also order you to pay restitution. This means that you, as the defendant, would need to reimburse the victim of theft for the value of the stolen property under A.R.S. section 13-707(A). You may be penalized not only for the retail value of the goods or services you stole, but under section 12-691, a penalty of $250 as well as any actual damages experienced by the property owner may apply as well. If a child perpetrates petty theft at a store, her parents or legal guardian could be liable for a penalty of the actual value of what was stolen as well as a penalty of $100 plus any actual damages.Phoenix Attorney for Theft Crime Charges
If you have been charged with petty theft, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate your case and advise you regarding your legal options. Mr. Novak represents defendants charged with theft and other crimes in the Phoenix area including in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, and throughout Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.