For example, under Arizona law, theft of property that is valued at less than one thousand dollars is usually considered a misdemeanor. The most common exceptions to the valuation rule involve the theft of a firearm, a vehicle engine, or any vehicle transmission – the theft of any of these items is always considered to be a felony offense regardless of the value involved.
Why Hire a Misdemeanor Shoplifting Defense Attorney?
The purpose for hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer for misdemeanor offenses like theft and shoplifting are:
To protect the innocent
To safeguard important rights; and
To ensure that the punishment is not excessive and fits the behavior.
The most common type of misdemeanor theft is shoplifting. However, a repeat offender shoplifter (which means two prior convictions in the past five years) can be charged with a felony offense regardless of the value involved. In addition, use of any container or device (like a purse or a diaper bag) to facilitate the shoplifting can also elevate a low dollar crime to a felony offense.
Nowadays, most retail outlets employ full-time loss prevention employees whose sole purpose is to detect and detain shoplifters. By statute, a retail establishment has the legal right to question any person who is suspected of shoplifting. It is important to understand that a conversation with a non-government store employee is not the same thing as custodial interrogation conducted by a police officer. When a police officer restricts your freedom to leave, several constitutional safeguards instantly apply. A non-government store employee is not bound by those same constitutional mandates. As a result, suppressing any voluntary statements made to a store employee (before the police arrive) is something that can be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish.
In addition to any punishment that can be imposed by the criminal courts, a merchant that has detained a shoplifter has two civil remedies that are almost always invoked:
The shoplifter can be put on notice that s/he is no longer welcome in that particular store and will be arrested for trespassing if s/he returns within a designated time frame; and
The store can require that the shoplifter pay a civil penalty of $250.00 plus the value of the item taken.
TIP: If you are faced with criminal charges of any kind, it is very important that you have an experience Arizona criminal defense lawyer present before speaking with the police.
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