What are the Penalties for Shoplifting?



Shoplifting is a serious legal offense with far-reaching consequences.

In addition to facing criminal charges, defendants can be sued by the merchants they stole from in civil court, which may result in the defendant paying damages to help the merchant recoup their losses.

Given the severe consequences of a shoplifting conviction, defendants charged with shoplifting need to know what they are being charged with and why it is imperative to have a committed Arizona criminal defense lawyer providing legal counsel.

How Does Arizona Define Shoplifting?

Section 13-1805 of the Arizona Revised Statutes details when an Arizona defendant is guilty of shoplifting.

An Arizona individual commits shoplifting if, while in a shopping establishment, the person "knowingly obtains merchandise from that shopping establishment with an intent to deprive the establishment of merchandise" in the following ways:

  • They removed goods from the shop's immediate display or any other place in the store without paying the purchase price for the good(s)

  • Charging the purchase price of the goods to a fictitious person or any other person without that person's authority

  • Paying less than a good's purchase price by trickery or deception (for example, altering or switching price tags)

  • Transferring goods from one container to another

  • Concealing the goods

Penalties for Shoplifting

The penalties for a shoplifting conviction depend greatly on the degree of the offense.

Punishments are based on the classification of the offense, and shoplifting charges can vary from a misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony.

As a general rule, the offense's classification will be based on factors like the value of the goods shoplifted and whether the accused has been convicted of any prior offenses.

These penalties are outlined by A.R.S. 13-1805.

Felony Shoplifting

The least severe form of felony shoplifting is a Class 6 felony.

A Class 6 felony occurs if the defendant shoplifted more than $1,000 worth of goods, but less than $2,000.

Alternatively, if a firearm was shoplifted, this will automatically qualify as a felony.

First offense Class 6 felonies may result in penalties of:

  • Jail time ranging between six months and 1.5 years

  • Up to three years of probation

  • Up to $150,000 in fines

A Class 5 felony occurs if the defendant shoplifts more than $2,000 worth of goods, shoplifted to further gang activity or shoplifted three times within 90 days and stole items valued at $1,500 or more.

If convicted, a first offense Class 5 felony may result in:

  • Between 9 months and two years of jail time

  • Up to three years of probation

  • Fines up to $150,000

The most severe felony shoplifting offense is a Class 4 felony, which occurs if:

  1. The defendant used an artifice, instrument or device such as a container with the intent to facilitate the act of shoplifting

  2. The defendant has two previous convictions for shoplifting, theft, robbery or burglary, organized theft or any other kind of theft within the past five years

A first offense Class 4 conviction could lead to:

  • Between 1.5 and three years of jail time

  • Up to three years of probation

  • Fines of up to $150,000

Misdemeanor Shoplifting

All other shoplifting offenses will be categorized as a Class 1 misdemeanor, meaning the shoplifted property was valued at $1,000 and was not a firearm.

Class 1 misdemeanors result in up to six months in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500 and up to three years of probation.

Typically, these offenses involve shoplifting low-value items.

As such, your criminal defense lawyer will fight to have your charges reduced, which could lead to diversion program attendance or mandatory community service rather than jail time.

A diversion, for reference, allows the defendant's charges to be dismissed once they have successfully completed the terms of the diversion, which will include some combination of community service, classes and/or fines.

Regardless of the shoplifting offense you are charged with, you need a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer who will fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Your attorney will raise all possible legal defenses on your behalf.

Legal defenses such as these are essential to protect your legal rights and advise you of the best path forward, which may include a diversion program, negotiating a plea bargain or raising legal defenses that could get your charges dismissed.

Contact us today at 602-456-0545.