As an immigrant living in the United States, a criminal conviction for shoplifting could lead to your deportation if it qualifies as a deportable offense, such as an aggravated felony or a crime of moral turpitude. If you are facing shoplifting charges as an immigrant, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. You will need an attorney’s assistance to navigate your case if you wish to build the strongest possible defense.

Criminal Charges That Could Lead to Deportation

The U.S. government has the ability to deport all immigrants, including documented immigrants with valid green cards, for violating certain laws, including immigration laws. Criminal activity is the most common type of violation that can result in deportation. Not every criminal conviction, however, will lead to deportation.

When determining a matter of deportation, a judge will look at the actual crime committed rather than only its classification. The courts will look to see if the crime is a deportable type of offense. If it is a crime of moral turpitude, even a misdemeanor could lead to deportation. A first-time petty offense that leads to less than one year in jail, however, typically is not grounds for expulsion from the country.

A crime of moral turpitude means that it violated the country’s trust in the individual. Although there is not a specific definition of a crime of moral turpitude, it describes crimes involving dishonesty or fraud, including theft and shoplifting. If a judge believes a shoplifting offense is a crime of moral turpitude, it could lead to deportation even if the value of the item taken classifies the crime as a misdemeanor.

If the shoplifting crime is classified as an aggravated felony, meaning that the defendant used a dangerous weapon or injured someone, it could also lead to deportation, regardless of the value of the item stolen. Aggravated felonies as listed under Section 1101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act are almost always grounds for deportation.

Shoplifting Laws and Penalties in Arizona

Under Arizona Revised Statutes Section 13-1805, shoplifting is defined as knowingly obtaining merchandise that is displayed for sale with the intent to deprive the establishment of such goods. Shoplifting is committed by taking the item without paying the purchase price, changing the price of the goods, transferring the goods from one container to another, buying the goods with someone else’s credit card without that person’s permission or concealment. 

An individual is presumed to have a culpable mental state to commit shoplifting if he or she either knowingly concealed unpurchased merchandise on his or her person (or someone else’s person) or used a container, device, instrument or artifice to take the item. Shoplifting is classified as a misdemeanor in Arizona if the value of the stolen item is less than $1,000. At a value of more than $1,000, however, it is a felony crime. 

Being convicted of felony shoplifting in Arizona could be grounds for deportation. It could also result in penalties such as fines and jail time. The more valuable the item shoplifted, the more severe the penalties. If the item was worth $25,000 or more, for example, it is class 2 felony theft with a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. Factors such as a prior criminal record can increase the sentence given.

What to Do if You’re Facing Shoplifting Charges as an Immigrant

If you are a documented or undocumented immigrant who has been arrested for shoplifting, contact a criminal defense attorney in Glendale right away. With your future as a resident of the U.S. potentially at stake, you need an experienced attorney to aggressively defend your rights. The right lawyer will custom tailor a defense to use against the shoplifting charges on your behalf. Your lawyer can also help you navigate immigration laws to try to protect your status as a U.S. citizen during your criminal case.

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