Arizona Theft Laws: The Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony
Being accused of theft should never be taken lightly. In the state of Arizona, there are varying degrees of classifications of theft. While the accusation of theft is always a serious charge, each classification comes with its own unique set of penalties. Understanding the differences between a misdemeanor theft and the various classes of felony theft is important to building the best case for your defense and protecting your future.
What is Theft?
Under Arizona State law, a person can be convicted of the crime of theft in situations where they knowingly (and without having the lawful authority to do so), take any of the following actions:
- Using someone else’s property or services for any unauthorized period of time.
- Committing fraud as a means of obtaining another person’s property or services.
- Controlling lost property without making a reasonable attempt to locate its owner.
- Controlling someone else’s property with the intent of depriving the said person of the property.
- Controlling stolen property.
- Obtaining compensable goods or services without paying for the goods or services.
Schill Law Group understands the law as it pertains to all types of theft and can help fight on your behalf.
Misdemeanor vs Felony Theft in Arizona
The primary difference between a misdemeanor and felony theft charge in the state of Arizona concerns the dollar value of what was stolen. Generally speaking, the higher the dollar value of the property or service that was stolen, the harsher the penalties will be if convicted. ARS § 13 – 1802 mandates that a theft shall be classified as a misdemeanor unless the dollar value of what was stolen exceeds $1000. Theft crimes exceeding this amount will be brought forth as a felony charge. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. In the event that a firearm or an animal is stolen, the charges will be brought as a felony. Other extenuating circumstances, such as an assault during the theft, could also impact the severity of the charges.
Classification and Penalties for Theft in Arizona
The following is an outline of the different classifications of theft in Arizona and their corresponding penalties:
- Class 1 Misdemeanor Theft – Theft of property or services with a dollar value of less than $1000 is designated as a Class 1 misdemeanor, and is the lowest-level theft offense. Sometimes, this level of theft is described as “petty theft.” A Class 1 misdemeanor theft is punishable by as many as six months of jail time, fines up to $2500, and restitution to the victim.
- Class 6 Felony Theft – The lowest level felony theft charge is designated as a class 6 and involves cases, where the property or services involved, were valued between $1000 to $2000. If convicted, punishment involves a minimum of four months to a maximum of two years of incarceration and fines up to $150,000.
- Class 5 Felony Theft – This class of theft involves property or services valued between $2000 to $3000 and carries a sentence of six months to 2.5 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $150,000.
- Class 4 Felony Theft – Here, property or services involved in the theft are valued between $3000 and $4000. In addition to this, the theft of any vehicle engine or transmission (regardless of the actual dollar value) is designated as a Class 4 Felony theft. Punishment includes one to 3.75 years of incarceration and fines of no more than $150,000.
- Class 3 Felony Theft – A theft is designated as a Class 3 felony when a property is valued at at least $4000 but not greater than $25,000. If convicted, punishment includes two to 8.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.
- Class 2 Felony Theft – The most serious class of felony theft in Arizona, this type of charge involves property or services with a value of $25,000 or greater. Those convicted may receive three to 12.5 years of incarceration and fines not to exceed $150,000.