The basic definition of theft is to intentionally take or carry away someone else's personal property without consent or a legal right. For example, if you pick up a backpack in the mistaken belief that it's yours, that's not theft because you lacked the intent to take someone else's property. The terms larceny and theft are often used interchangeably; state law determines what the crime is called. Arizona, for example, labels these property crimes as theft.
Defining Theft in Arizona
Arizona has several statutes in the theft chapter of its criminal code, some of which include shoplifting, theft of trade secrets, and theft by extortion. Arizona also has a more general theft statute that provides a definition for activities that are considered theft. Although it's a lengthy statute, some acts, when done knowingly and without lawful authority, that Arizona defines as theft include:
- Controlling someone else's property with the intent to deprive them of the property;
- Obtaining property or services by making a material misrepresentation with the intent to deprive another of the property or services; or
- Controlling property knowing (or having reason to know) that its stolen property.
Please note that this is simply a sample of activities defined as theft. For a complete list, please see the actual statutes.
Overview of Arizona Theft and Larceny Laws
While it's important read the actual statute when researching a question about the law, sometimes that can be a daunting task since statutes are often written in legal jargon that can take time to understand. For this reason, it can be helpful to read an overview of the statute in plain English to better understand the "legalese" included in the statute. Below, you'll find an overview of the key provisions of Arizona's theft laws as well as links to relevant statutes.
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1801, et seq. (Theft)
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.
|Charges and Penalties
The charges and penalties for theft will vary* depending on the value or character of the property that's stolen:
- Less than $1,000 is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 6 months.
- $1,000 to less than $2,000, a firearm or an animal to be used in animal fighting is a class 6 felony punishable by imprisonment for 6 months to 1.5 years.
- $2,000 to less than $3,000 is a class 5 felony punishable by imprisonment for 0.75 years to 2 years.
- $3,000 to less than $4,000, vehicle engine, or vehicle transmission is a class 4 felony punishable by imprisonment for 1.5 to 3 years.
- $4,000 to less than $25,000 is a class 3 felony punishable by imprisonment for 2.5 to 7 years.
- $25,000 or more is a class 2 felony punishable by imprisonment for 4 to 10 years.
*Please be advised that this list applies to Section 13-1802, and only provides the minimum and maximum without taking into consideration any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. The charges and penalties may be different if the circumstances of the theft fall under a different statute.
Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1901, et seq. (Robbery)
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Arizona Theft and Larceny Laws: Related Resources
Facing Theft/Larceny Charges in Arizona? Contact an Attorney
When you're charged with a theft crime, the difference between freedom and prison can turn on a few facts. If you've been charged under Arizona theft laws, get in touch with a local criminal defense attorney who can research the evidence, develop a case strategy, and negotiate on your behalf.