Arizona Court Sides with Defendant on Double Jeopardy Issue, Lessening His Sentence as a Result

Recently, a case before an Arizona court of appeals looked at the question of whether shoplifting and theft should be classified as two separate convictions or as the same conviction. In the June 2023 case, the defendant was originally arrested and charged after he stole water bottles from a grocery store, and he was convicted of both shoplifting and theft as a result. After being sentenced heavily based on the two convictions, the defendant appealed; looking over the record, the court ultimately agreed with the defendant’s argument and modified his sentence to reflect that he was guilty of one conviction instead of two.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was at Safeway one afternoon when he took two cases of water bottles that were on display outside the store. Several store employees saw the defendant putting the cases in his car, and they yelled at him to put them back immediately. The defendant replied that he had a gun, and he proceeded to the car despite the employees’ protests.

The employees called the police, and several officers arrived on the scene immediately. The defendant was charged with shoplifting and theft, and his case went to trial. A jury unanimously found him guilty of both offenses, and he was sentenced to significant time in prison as a result.

The Decision

The defendant appealed the jury’s decision, primarily arguing that the verdict violated part of the U.S. Constitution called “double jeopardy.” According to this provision, an individual cannot be found guilty multiple times based on the same offense. Here, said the defendant, the elements of the shoplifting offense and the theft offense had significant overlap. It was, therefore, unfair that he was found doubly guilty when both of the offenses were based on the exact same action.

Looking at the defendant’s argument, the court agreed that the lower court had violated the double jeopardy provision of the Constitution. Indeed, said the court, the offenses had significant overlap, and he should not have been convicted twice for something that only happened once. By modifying the defendant’s conviction, the court lessened the overall sentence, marking a significant victory for the defendant.

Are You In the Market for a Strong Arizona Defense Attorney?

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we give every client the care and attention they deserve because we understand how much is at stake when a person’s individual freedom is on the line. Even in a case involving charges like shoplifting, which may not appear serious to some, we provide our clients with aggressive representation to ensure their arrest as has little impact as possible on the rest of their life. We offer aggressive, individualized representation, and we are there for our clients even in the toughest of times. If you are facing criminal charges in Arizona and you need representation, call us today for a free and confidential consultation at (480) 413-1499. You can also fill out our online form to tell us about your case.


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