Theft Crimes and Fraud Charges in Arizona
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Misdemeanor and Felony Theft Charges in Arizona
If you are charged with a theft or fraud offense in Arizona, the potential penalties can be severe.
People convicted of theft or fraud charges may face thousands of dollars in fines, restitution, long jail or prison sentences, and civil penalties.
If you or a loved one is facing a fraud charge or theft charge, understanding the various classifications of these types of crimes can help you. At Colburn Hintze Maletta, our experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorneys can help you understand the charges you are facing, their potential penalties, and the defenses that might be available to you.
Levels of Theft Crimes in Arizona
Theft is not a single offense that covers all situations. Instead, theft crimes fall into different levels with different punishments, depending on the value of what was stolen, and the type of property involved.
If you have previous criminal convictions on your record, you could face even harsher penalties.
What is a Theft Crime?
Under ARS 13-1802, a theft occurs when someone takes, exercises control over, uses, converts, obtains, or keeps someone else’s property without the owner’s permission or authority. The penalties may be based on the total value of the assets that were stolen.
For example, if you take property with a value of $1,000 up to $2,000, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony carrying the potential sentence of up to two years in prison. If you steal something that is valued at less than $1,000, it is a misdemeanor.
The differences between a misdemeanor and felony theft offense are described below.
Misdemeanor Theft Charges in Arizona
If you are convicted of stealing property valued at less than $1,000, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if you steal property valued at less than $1,000 from someone else’s person or take a firearm valued at less than $1,000, it is a Class 6 felony.
Under ARS 13-707 and 13-802, a conviction for a first-degree misdemeanor theft can result in up to six months in jail and fines up to $2,500. You can also be ordered to pay restitution to the victim and serve a probationary sentence of up to three years.
In most situations, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor theft offense is one year, meaning that you can be charged with this crime up to one year after the theft was committed.
Felony Theft Charges
Felony theft offenses can be charged as Class 6 to Class 2 felonies, with the lower numbers representing more severe felony offenses. If you stole property worth more than $1,000, you could face a felony charge.
The penalties and classifications of felony theft charges in Arizona differ based on the value of the property stolen as follows:
- $1,000 to $2,000 – Class 6 felony with up to two years in prison and possible probation
- $2,001 to $3,000 – Class 5 felony with up to 2.5 years in prison with possible probation
- $3,001 to $4,000 – Class 4 felony with up to 75 years in prison and possible probation
- $4,001 to $25,000 – Class 3 felony with up to 8.75 years in prison with possible probation
- $25,001 or higher – Class 2 felony with up to 12.5 years in prison with possible probation
If the value of the property that was stolen is worth more than $100,000, it will be a Class 2 felony.
However, you will not be eligible for probation and will serve a prison-only sentence of up to 12.5 years.
A theft conviction can cause other consequences in your life that can continue causing harm long after you have discharged your sentence.
People who have theft convictions may lose any professional licenses they might hold, have trouble securing employment, face difficulty securing loans and credit, have trouble being approved for housing, and endure stigma in the community.
Categories of Different Theft Offenses
There are also different categories of theft offenses that determine the classification of an offense and the penalties. Some of these are listed below:
- Intellectual property thefts – Violating the intellectual property rights held by others
- Trafficking in stolen property – Accepting property you knew was stolen
- Larceny or embezzlement – Converting property you did not own for personal profit
- Grand theft – Taking any property valued at more than $1,000
- Petty theft – Taking property worth less than $1,000
- Burglary – Entering someone else’s property to commit a felony inside
- Identity theft – Taking someone else’s personally identifying information
- Motor vehicle theft – Taking a vehicle belonging to someone else without permission
- Shoplifting – Taking items from a store; can range from a civil fine or a crime from a Class 1 misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony based on the property’s value and whether damages occurred while committing the offense
- Robbery – Committing a theft with the use of weapons or force
The criminal justice system in Arizona does not treat theft crimes lightly. Other types of theft offenses include misusing a power of attorney, diverting services, extortion, and failing to return leased property.
Any conviction for a theft offense can negatively impact your future no matter what the situation might have been.
If you are facing any type of theft charges in Arizona, you should contact an experienced theft attorney as soon as possible.
The attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta are well-versed in all types of theft offenses, laws, and regulations and know how to defend against these types of allegations.
What is a Fraud Crime?
Fraud offenses in Arizona occur when people falsify information to gain a benefit. You can be charged with a fraud offense if you intentionally deceive someone else for personal gain.
Fraud offenses can also be charged when you intend to cause damage to someone else. Like thefts, there are different categories of fraud offenses with different penalties.
Categories of Fraud Offenses
There are several categories of fraud offenses in Arizona that can range from civil offenses to criminal offenses. Some of these fraud offense categories are described below:
- Bank fraud – Using deception to obtain property or money from a financial institution
- Embezzlement – Embezzling money or property through deceptive means from an employer, individual, or business
- Government fraud – Using deception to gain money from the government through scams involving taxes, fraudulent billing, or swindling
- Unemployment fraud – Falsely claiming unemployment to collect benefits
- Mortgage fraud – Making omissions, material misrepresentations, or misstatements on an application to obtain a mortgage loan
- Computer fraud or tampering – Accessing data or information from someone else’s computer through fraudulent means
- Counterfeiting – Possessing, distributing, or manufacturing things that are inauthentic, including illegal transactions or for purposes to deceive others
- Wire fraud – Using the internet, email, phone calls, or facsimiles to deceive others for personal gain
- Political corruption – Using official power for illegal personal gain and can involve extortion, graft, patronage, bribery, embezzlement, and more
- Pyramid scheme – Funneling earnings or income from a lower level to a higher tier within an organization through deception
Penalties for Fraud Offenses in Arizona
Fraud offenses carry different potential penalties that can range from the penalties for a Class 6 felony to a Class 2 felony. The particular types of fraud offenses can also impact the penalties you might face.
For a first offense Class 2 felony fraud conviction, you can be sentenced to serve up to 12.5 years in prison, face a fine of up to $150,000, be ordered to pay restitution, and potentially be placed on probation. If you have a prior conviction, your prison range can be from 4.5 up to 23 years in prison. If you have two prior convictions, you can face up to 35 years in prison.
If you are convicted of a fraud offense involving more than $100,000, you will not be eligible for a suspended sentence. Depending on the situation, you can face serious fines and a lengthy prison sentence.
What Defenses Are Available for Theft or Fraud Crimes?
Your attorney will carefully analyze the facts and situation to identify the best defenses to raise in your case. Some potential defenses might include misidentification, a lack of intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property, the property was a gift, your constitutional rights were violated, your statements were not fraudulent, and the value of the property is less than what the police charged.
The attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta have years of experience defending against theft and fraud crimes and might be able to secure a reduced sentence or a dismissal. We will look for the best strategy for trying to clear a fraud or theft offense from your record and help you to navigate through the entire court process.
When you are facing theft or fraud charges, it is essential for you to talk to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Get Help from an Experienced Theft and Fraud Crime Attorney
The criminal defense attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta are among the most knowledgeable theft and fraud lawyers in Arizona.
Contact us at (602) 825-2500 to learn how we can help you defend against your charges and obtain the best possible outcome under the circumstances.
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