Arizona Court Rules More Shoplifting Defendants Entitled to Jury Trial

April 24, 2014

The Arizona Court of Appeals has expanded Arizonans' right to have a jury trial in misdemeanor cases. In a ruling, the judges say more shoplifting defendants are entitled to be judged by their peers instead of a judge.

A three-judge panel ruled in a case out of Maricopa County that people charged with misdemeanor shoplifting by removal are entitled to jury trials. Shoplifting by removal is when a person takes an item from a display or another place in a store and doesn't pay for it.

The ruling says those defendants are entitled to a trial because there’s a historical right to jury trials for the substantially similar crime of larceny.

The ruling doesn't cover all types of shoplifting, but another Court of Appeals panel ruled in 2009 that people charged with misdemeanor shoplifting by concealment also have a right to a jury trial.

The ruling is the latest of several in recent years in which Arizona courts have decided whether defendants in particular crimes, like resisting arrest and some instances of DUI, had the right to jury trials.