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Shoplifting charges can be misdemeanors or felonies

Shoplifting is a crime that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the value of the goods that are taken from a merchant. Arizona law sets forth some very specific points regarding shoplifting that lay out the definition, the lawful actions of the merchant and the types of punishments that might occur upon a conviction.

Shoplifting occurs when a person tries to hide merchandise that wasn't paid for while in the shop. When shoplifting is suspected, the merchant has the right to detain the suspected shoplifter until a law enforcement officer arrives on the scene.

When the value of the merchandise is less than $1,000, the shoplifting charge is a misdemeanor. There are some instances in which the misdemeanor can be upgraded to a felony. This is the case if a firearm is the item that is taken.

It is also possible for different instances of shoplifting to be combined to meet the $1,500 requirement to charge the person with a continuing criminal episode. All incidents of shoplifting in that case must occur within a 90-day period.

There are also habitual offender laws that can turn a shoplifting charge into a class 4 felony charge. If the value of the items was more than $2,000 or to facilitate gang or criminal syndicate activity, the charge is a class 5 felony. If the value of the items was less than $2,000 but more than $1,000, the charge is a class 6 felony.

Even if the shoplifting charge is a misdemeanor, a conviction can still have a considerable impact on your life. You should explore your defense options so you can choose how you want to handle your defense against these charges.

Source: Arizona State Legislature, "13-1805. Shoplifting; detaining suspect; defense to wrongful detention; civil action by merchant; public services; classification," accessed Dec. 10, 2015

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