Arizona Theft and Larceny Laws
The basic definition of theft is to take or carry away someone else’s personal property without consent or a legal right. If you pick up a backpack in the mistaken belief that it’s yours, that’s not theft. You must act with the purpose of taking someone else’s property to be convicted.
The terms larceny and theft are often used interchangeably. This is because the words have the same meaning. Larceny is simply the legal term for theft. State law determines what the crime is called. Arizona labels these property crimes as theft. Let’s take a closer look at Arizona theft and larceny laws.
Overview of Arizona Theft and Larceny Laws
Below, you will find key provisions of Arizona’s theft laws.
- Property: Anything of value, tangible or intangible, including trade secrets.
- Value: The fair market value of the property or services at the time of the theft.
- Control: Act to exclude others from using their property except on the defendant's own terms.
Theft Classifications and Sentences
- Less Than $1,000
- Misdemeanor Petty Theft
- Up to six months in jail
- Unless property is taken from the person of another, is a firearm, or an animal taken for animal fighting in violation of §13-2910.01, then class 6 felony.
- $1,000 to $2,000
- Class 6 Felony
- Minimum 4 months in jail/ Max 2 years in prison
- 2,000 to $3,000
- Class 5 Felony
- Minimum 6 months in jail/ Max 2.5 years in prison
- $3,000 to $4,000
- Class 4 Felony
- Minimum 1 year/ Maximum 3.75 years in prison
- $4,000 to $25,000
- Class 3 Felony
- Minimum 2 years /Maximum 8.75 years
- More than $25,000
- Class 2 Felony
- Minimum 3 years /Maximum 12.5 years
- Ownership of Property
- Lack of Intent
Note: State laws are always subject to change. It’s important to verify the laws you’re researching by conducting your own research or consulting with a qualified Arizona criminal defense attorney.
Acts that are Charged as Theft
In Arizona, a person can be convicted of theft if, without lawful authority, they knowingly do any of the following:
- Controls someone else’s property with the intent to keep it from them;
- Takes property or uses services for an unauthorized time, or misuses services or property entrusted to them. An example is if you took a company car on a family vacation without prior permission.
- Obtains services or property of another by misrepresenting an important fact.
- Comes into control of lost, mislaid or mis-delivered property of another under circumstances that you knew or should have known the property was someone else’s and you didn’t take reasonable efforts to notify the true owner. If your neighbor’s new TV delivered to your house by mistake, keeping it would be a theft.
- Controls property of another knowing or having reason to know that the property was stolen; or
- Obtains services known to the defendant to be available only for compensation without paying or an agreement to pay the compensation or diverts another's services to the person's own or another's benefit without authority to do so; or
- Controls the ferrous or nonferrous metal (eg. iron, aluminum or copper) of another with the intent to deprive the other person of the metal; or
- Controls the ferrous metal or nonferrous metal of another knowing or having reason to know that the metal was stolen; or
- During the ordinary course of business, purchase the ferrous metal or nonferrous metal of another person knowing that the metal was stolen.
Penalties and Sentencing Considerations
Arizona classifies theft charges as either misdemeanor or felony based on the value of the property involved. Each felony classification for burglary has a minimum and maximum sentencing range. Since the value of the property is often open for interpretation, penalties for theft can be variable.
In determining the classification of the offense, the state may add together the value of property taken in thefts committed during one scheme or course of conduct. This means that if you took 10 bikes from a neighborhood over a period of a few week, and each bike was only valued at $150, you can be charged with felony theft since the value of the bikes added together is more than $1,000.
Defenses for a Theft Charge
Being charged with theft doesn’t mean that you will be convicted. There are a variety of defenses an attorney can raise on your behalf. Some defenses challenge the facts, testimony or evidence in the case; others target procedural errors, such as lack of probable cause; and there are affirmative defenses that negate criminal liability, such as consent. The following are some of the more common defenses to drug possession.
- Ownership: If the accused can provide proof that they had a good-faith belief that the property was their own, it can defeat the necessary mental state required for a theft claim. Of course, actual ownership is a complete defense to the charge.
- Lack of Intent: Occurs where a defendant thinks they have permission to use property by the rightful owner of the property, but the permission-giving individual does not actually own the property. This defense can also occur if the defendant believes the property to be their own, or if they had a good faith belief the property was abandoned.
- Intoxication: Voluntary or involuntary intoxication can cause the defendant to be unable to form the required intent to steal.
- Consent: Taking property without the consent of the owner forms one of the essential components of theft. If the owner consents to the taking, the taking of the property doesn’t amount to theft.
Research the Law
If you have additional questions about theft charges and Arizona laws, review the following links:
Facing Criminal Charges? Receive a Free Case Review
When you’re charged with a theft crime, the difference between freedom and prison can turn on a few facts. The state aggressively prosecutes these crimes and often seek the harshest possible penalties. An experienced criminal attorney can research the evidence, develop a case strategy and negotiate on your behalf. If you're dealing with a criminal matter, it's in your best interest to receive a free case review from a local attorney to learn more about how the law applies in your case.