Articles Posted in Theft

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In a recent opinion in an Arizona case involving stolen jewelry, the defendant’s request for a new verdict was denied. After having been found guilty of selling stolen property, the defendant appealed by arguing there was insufficient evidence to support her guilty verdict. She also argued that it was actually her co-defendant who should be punished and that she should not be forced to pay the amount of the jewelry. The court disagreed, saying both that the evidence was sufficient to support a guilty verdict and it that was right for the defendant to be the one made to pay the money.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, two defendants were involved in a trafficking charge that revolved around stolen jewelry and an attempt to sell that jewelry to a coin and gold shop. One of the defendants had taken the pieces from an individual’s home, then had given them to the second defendant to sell. When the defendant went into the shop and began showing the pieces to the store owner, it became quickly apparent that the defendant did not know any information about where the pieces had come from or how much money they were worth.

Suspicious, the store owner called detectives after the encounter. When detectives contacted the defendant, she claimed she found the jewelry discarded on the side of the road. The defendant could not, however, provide any details about how or where she found the pieces. At trial, the State charged the defendant with one count of second-degree trafficking in stolen property. She was ordered to pay the store owner as well as the original owner of the jewelry for the cost of the pieces – in total, $13,810.

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In a recent opinion from an Arizona court, a defendant who resisted arrest lost his appeal. The defendant was found guilty of resisting arrest and theft of a vehicle, and he appealed, arguing the jury could not make a proper decision in his case because the language of the judge’s instructions to the jury was incorrect. The court disagreed, ultimately denying the defendant’s appeal.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, an Arizona state trooper was checking license plate numbers of vehicles in a hotel parking lot to try and figure out if any of the cars had been stolen. While patrolling, the trooper noticed a car with an “abnormally large” temporary registration. He ran the registration through the system and learned that it was associated with a fake vehicle identification number. Looking inside the vehicle, the trooper noticed that the car’s actual identification number was inside and that its ignition system’s shroud had been completely removed. The trooper then confirmed that the car had been stolen.

Later, detectives saw the defendant walking back and forth between the hotel and the vehicle, loading items into the car. When the defendant was inside the car, officers began to follow him. Once it became clear the officers were trying to stop and arrest the defendant, he got out of the car and began running. Officers chased the defendant on foot, and several officers detained him after he tried to jump over a fence. At one point, detectives had the defendant pinned to the ground, and the defendant continued to fight them until finally allowing them to put him in handcuffs. The defendant was later charged with resisting arrest and theft of means of transportation.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona retail theft case requiring the court to determine if the defendant’s pre- and post-arrest statements to police should have been suppressed at trial. Ultimately, the court concluded that the police officer’s interaction with the defendant before his arrest did not constitute “custodial interrogation,” and thus neither of the defendant’s statements were suppressible.

According to the court’s opinion, police received a call that a man wearing a black and orange backpack walked into a convenience store and took beer on two separate occasions on the same day. Shortly after the second alleged theft, police officers stopped the defendant, who was carrying two 24-packs of beer, one on each shoulder. When asked where he got the beer and how he paid for it, the defendant responded that he got it from a store up the street and that a “higher power” paid for it.

The officer handcuffed the defendant, read him his Miranda rights, and then asked several follow-up questions. The defendant admitted to stealing the beer. The officer then searched the defendant’s backpack, and found additional beer. Finally, the store employees who witnessed the theft were transported to the defendant’s location, and they positively identified him as the person who entered the store and stole the beer.

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In December of last year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona theft case involving a question about the admissibility of the defendant’s confession. Specifically, the court had to determine if the fact that the defendant, who did not speak English, validly waived her constitutional rights before agreeing to make a statement. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant was “adequately informed” of her Miranda rights, and affirmed her conviction.

According to the court’s opinion, detectives were investigating a claim that a person was making unauthorized withdrawals from an elderly woman’s account. Through their investigation, the detectives ended up arresting the defendant, a non-native English speaker who was originally from Thailand.

On the way to the police station, the detective spoke with the defendant to assess her fluency in English. She told him that she started to learn English in 1975, when she arrived in the United States, and that she had difficulty understanding the “hard words.” When they got to the station, the detective went over the defendant’s Miranda rights with her, a transcript of which was provided to the court. During the exchange, the defendant repeatedly explained that she did not understand what was going on, expressed an interest in not going to jail, and stated that maybe she should have an attorney present. After this initial exchange, the defendant provided a partial confession that eventually led to her conviction.

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When someone is arrested for a crime, such as robbery, it is up to the prosecution to determine what charges they will face. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for the prosecution to overcharge a defendant. Typically, when a defendant is overcharged they will have far more charges than necessary, and of a more serious nature. Prosecutors may have several reasons when they overcharge a defendant; however, it is commonly understood that prosecutors overcharge at least in part out of a hope that the serious nature of the charges will persuade the defendant to consider pleading to a lesser offense. Thus, someone who is charged with an Arizona crime must understand the elements of that crime and the prosecution’s chances of proving it at trial.

Robbery is among the most overcharged offenses in Arizona. An Arizona robbery offense is committed when “in the course of taking any property …, such person threatens or uses force against any person with intent either to coerce surrender of property or to prevent resistance to such person taking or retaining property.” Simply stated, a robbery occurs when someone takes or attempts to take an object by force or threat of force. Another way of looking at a robbery offense is that it is an assault that is committed in the course of a theft. Notably, there is no requirement that the person charged with robbery be successful in their attempt to remove an item from another person.

There are several types of defenses to a robbery charge. In some cases, the eyewitness identification may be suspect and susceptible to attack. For example, often, robberies occur in a split second, and an eyewitness’s mental notes about what the alleged doer looked like may not be accurate. However, police will use the eyewitness’ description to stop anyone that matches that description. Once police stop someone they believe matches the description, there may be an issue with the suggestiveness of the identification. For example, if a witness is asked if a suspect was the person that robbed him, and the person is in handcuffs and surrounded by eight police officers, the witness may be subconsciously cued to believe that the suspect was the person who robbed them.

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona burglary case discussing the defendant’s motion to suppress the cell-site location data (CSLD) that the prosecution used to tie the defendant to a co-defendant, who was alleged to have committed several burglaries. Ultimately, the court concluded that the CSLD was not seized in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights and affirmed her conviction.

According to the court’s opinion, police officers were investigating a string of burglaries. After receiving a tip that the co-defendant was going to commit another burglary, police officers obtained a warrant to search the co-defendant’s truck, home, and warehouse. When police stopped the co-defendant’s truck, the defendant was in the passenger seat. The defendant was in possession of several stolen pieces of jewelry.

In a single trial, the prosecution tried both defendants together. To tie the defendant to the burglaries, the prosecution obtained cellular site location data from the defendant’s cell phone. This data showed that the defendant was within a few miles of at least seven of the homes that were burglarized by the co-defendant. Neither the defendant nor her co-defendant moved to suppress the CSLD at trial. At the conclusion of the trial, the defendant was convicted on all counts. The defendant appealed the admission of the CSLD.

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Under common law, a burglary was defined as the breaking and entering of a dwelling of another at night with an intent to commit a felony therein. Over the years, state legislatures have refined the definition of burglary. For the most part, states have eliminated the requirement that the breaking and entering occur at night, and have added language making it a burglary to unlawfully remain on another’s property with the intent to commit a crime.

Arizona has three burglary statutes.

  • Burglary in the third degree: Entering or remaining unlawfully in or on a nonresidential structure or in a fenced commercial or residential yard with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein.
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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona gun possession case where the defendant was arrested for shoplifting and, upon a search of his backpack, police discovered a firearm. The case presents an interesting and informative discussion regarding when police have probable cause to determine that someone has committed the crime of shoplifting.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant entered a store wearing a backpack. He placed the backpack into a shopping cart and began walking around the store. The store’s video surveillance system shows the defendant selecting a variety of items and putting them into his cart. He also places a number of those items back onto the shelf. At some point, the defendant took a pair of sunglasses off the rack, removed the tag, and placed them atop his head.

The video also showed the defendant select an energy drink and a package of condoms and place them atop his backpack, which was still lying inside the cart. At some point, the defendant walks behind some displays out of frame of the surveillance camera. When he gets back in the frame, the energy drink and box of condoms are no longer visible. The store security guard, who believed that the defendant placed the items in his backpack, called the police. The defendant was stopped at the point-of-sale, before he had paid for the items or left the store. Police arrested the defendant for shoplifting and searched his backpack, where they found an energy drink, a box of condoms, narcotics, and a gun.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona burglary case in which the defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence that was used to convict him. However, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for burglary on the basis that the two-drawer filing cabinet he was seen peering into was a “nonresidential structure.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s written opinion, a man received a notification on his cell phone that something triggered his home’s motion sensor. The man grabbed his gun and went outside to check around his property. Once the man got outside, he evidently saw the defendant holding a flashlight looking in a two-drawer filing cabinet that the man kept alongside his garage. The man told the defendant to stop, and the defendant was ultimately arrested and charged with burglary.

Burglary in Arizona

In Arizona, section 13-1508 defines burglary in the first degree as “entering … a nonresidential structure … with the intent to commit any theft or any felony therein” while possessing a weapon. The term nonresidential structure is defined in section 13-1501 as “any structure other than a residential structure and includes a retail establishment.” Section 13-1501 also defines the term “structure” as an “object… with sides and a floor that is separately securable from any other structure attached to it and that is used for lodging, business, transportation, recreation or storage.”

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Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona burglary case discussing whether the trial court properly reversed a defendant’s conviction after the jury was allowed to view digital pictures that had only been admitted into evidence as hard-copies. Ultimately, the court concluded that the digital images were “duplicates” of the original hard-copy photographs, and that showing the digital images to the jury was permissible.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s recitation of the facts, a witness saw a man and a woman jumping over a fence and entering a home. A few minutes later, the witness saw the same couple leaving the home carrying a black bag. The witness took several pictures of the couple on her cell phone.

Police later determined that jewelry and several guns were missing from the property. The defendant was arrested and charged with several crimes, including burglary and possession of a firearm by a prohibited possessor.

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