Although shoplifting in Arizona can be a serious crime, it’s easier than ever to mistakenly believe otherwise. It might seem too familiar for businesses or the authorities to take the crime all that seriously.

But don’t think a shoplifting arrest can be handled without serious attention, careful thinking and experienced legal counsel.

What shoppers and stores can and cannot do

Arizona laws specify the actions considered shoplifting in the state when you do them knowingly.

It’s illegal to charge items to imaginary people or to real people without their permission, switch or alter tags, swap goods from one box to another or hide items on you or someone else.

Store employees can detain you, under certain conditions, and they’re allowed to raise it as a defense for false imprisonment or kidnapping.

Whether it’s okay to detain you depends on reasonableness.

If the store notices something that would cause a reasonable person to stop you for questioning or to wait for the police, they can probably keep you there.

But only in a reasonable way and only for a reasonable time.

There are defenses for shoplifting charges

An effective defense might lead to a shoplifting charge being dismissed or reduced.

For example, there may be a reasonable doubt of your guilt if actions match the shoplifting actions above, but you didn’t do them knowingly.

Other defenses may focus on how reasonably you were detained either by the store or the police.

Were you denied your right to be informed of yours rights, to not incriminate yourself, to be represented by an attorney, or to be searched only for reasonable cause?

Dont let familiarity trick you

Surveillance cameras are in millions of stores of every imaginable kind.

That’s why there are so many shoplifting videos on the internet and social media.

We see celebrities being arrested for shoplifting more often than we might expect. Maybe it’s so widely covered because many thought of the stars as too wealthy and glamorous to commit this crime.

In fact, anyone can be arrested for shoplifting, regardless of their riches or sex appeal. And you shouldn’t have to be rich and famous to be entitled to a fair deal in court.