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While property crimes may seem less disturbing than violent crimes, the two types of offenses often overlap. If an armed individual, intending to burglarize an empty building, is unexpectedly confronted by another person, aggravated assault or even homicide may result. In the same vein, an act of arson meant to burn an uninhabited structure may result in a fatality. Property crimes are, therefore, taken very seriously by the criminal justice system. If you stand accused of a property crime, don’t make the mistake of thinking you are not in legal peril. Without skilled legal counsel, you may be facing harsh penalties and long-term negative consequences. If you are arrested for a property crime in Phoenix, Mesa, or any of the surrounding areas, the knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Blischak Law Firm, are ready to fight aggressively for your rights and your freedom.
There are many categories of crime that fit under the umbrella of property crime. All involve crimes committed to obtain money, property, or, in some instances, to deface or destroy property in order to exact revenge or for some other purpose. Shoplifting and vandalism are generally considered low-level property offenses. Armed robbery and arson, on the other hand, which include an element of force, threat of force, or bodily harm, are viewed much more gravely. Nonetheless, all property crimes carry potential fines, imprisonment, loss of civil rights, and the possibility of a permanently damaged reputation.
It should be noted that you may be punished for committing a property crime not only if you don’t harm anyone, but if you don’t even take any stolen goods. A conviction for burglary, for example, only requires unlawful entry with the intent of committing a crime.
Like other types of criminal behavior, property crimes are legally categorized into a range of degrees depending on various factors, such as the amount stolen, the use of force or arms in committing the crime, and actual bodily harm inflicted, intentionally or as an unintended result of the crime.
Arson is defined as intentional burning of almost any type of property, including any and all buildings or structures, and all kinds of land, including private or public property, forest or other wildlands. Penalties for arson become more severe if the crimes involve bodily injury, the burning of inhabited buildings or the intent to defraud insurance companies. Arizona statutes also cover unlawful symbol burning and cross burning. If you are convicted of arson, apart from any other penalties meted out, you will be responsible for the costs of emergency response and investigation costs.
Burglary is defined as the unlawful entry into a home or other closed structure, typically by force, with the intent of stealing property or committing some other crime. You are committing the crime of burglary if you break into a house, apartment, barn, church, cabin, factory, garage, houseboat or house trailer, room (as in a dormitory or hotel), or school. If you break into property while in possession of a dangerous weapon or deadly instrument, you can be arrested for felony burglary. In order to be convicted of burglary, you need not use force or violence. As a matter of fact, you can be convicted of burglary if you only lifted an unlocked window and extended your arm into the structure in an attempt to steal something.
An individual who knowingly enters, or unlawfully remains on, the property of another is trespassing. You may be accused of this offense if you are occupying property with a posted notice warning the public that entry is prohibited or if you remain on private property when the owner of the property has asked you to leave.
Robbery is defined as using force or the threat of force to take money or property from another individual. Robbery involves a direct encounter with another person. If you threaten someone into opening a cash register or safe, you have committed a robbery. While robbery is considered a violent crime, no one has to be injured for you to be convicted. As long as you have threatened the victim with the intent of coercing him or her to surrender property or to prevent resistance, you are committing the crime of robbery. If an accomplice was present, the crime is considered more serious.
Most of us are familiar with shoplifting since it is an extremely common crime. Although it does not involve threat or assault, it is by no means a victimless crime since a shopkeeper’s livelihood may be threatened or a corporation’s significant losses may raise prices for all customers or (in extreme cases) result in a company filing for bankruptcy. In Arizona, you can be arrested for shoplifting if you have concealed a product while shopping with the intent of not paying for it, changed the price on a tag to lower the cost of a potential purchase, or used a device to facilitate a theft. In Arizona, shoplifting becomes a felony if you have stolen property worth $2,000 or more or when the crime was committed during “a continual criminal episode.”
Theft is defined as intentionally taking someone else’s property. Even if you are an invited guest in someone’s home, for example, and you walk out with a piece of jewelry in your pocket that has not been given or lent to you, you are committing a theft. In order for a theft to be committed, you must have intended to deprive the person of the property permanently. If you are lent a laptop, for example, but intend to keep it and never return it, you are guilty of theft. Another form of theft is theft of services, such as eating a restaurant meal and leaving the premises without paying. There are various levels of theft in Arizona, depending on the value of the property stolen. If you take at least $1,000 worth of property or services, you have committed a class 6 felony in Arizona.
Because motor vehicle theft is defined as the theft or attempted theft of a motor vehicle, as with other forms of larceny, you can be found guilty of a crime whether you succeed in stealing the targeted vehicle or not. According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is a self-propelled vehicle that runs on land, but not on rails. There are a great many types of motor vehicles, including cars, trucks, buses, sport utility vehicles, motorcycles, and snowmobiles. It is interesting to note that farm equipment, construction equipment, watercraft and airplanes are not considered motor vehicles in this context.
Vandalism sometimes referred to as “malicious mischief,” occurs when someone defaces, degrades, or destroys someone else’s property. Perhaps the most common type of vandalism is graffiti, but vandalism also occurs when someone throws eggs at a house or car on Halloween or runs a key along the side of a car or truck in order to deface it, punish its owner, lessen its value or for some other malicious reason. Tampering with the functioning of a mailbox, bicycle or lawnmower also falls into the category of vandalism.
If you have been arrested for a property crime in Arizona, you are fortunate to have the experienced, savvy criminal defense attorneys at Blischak Law Firm ready to protect and defend you. Whatever the circumstances of your arrest, we will take your side, using every means at our disposal to fight the charges against you in a court of law.
We may be able to prove that you have a solid alibi, that your actions were misunderstood, that you were targeted in a discriminatory violation of your civil rights, that you were never informed of your Miranda rights, or that you were mistreated by security guards or law enforcement officers. If the evidence against you is solid, we will still be able to help you. We may be able to arrange an appropriate plea bargain to save you expense and loss of personal freedom. You should get in touch with us promptly by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.
Blischak Law Firm is dedicated to providing our clients with informed representation when they need it most. If you are facing criminal charges or you have been injured in an accident, don’t go it alone. We will be your attorneys and your allies and make you case our cause. When you become our client, you can rest assured that we will work to protect your interests. Please contact our office today to set up a consultation.
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