Property & Theft Crimes

What is a Theft Crime?
A theft crime is a criminal act of taking another individuals personal property without that persons consent. In California, theft crimes are classified as either grand theft or petty theft. Petty theft is taking another persons property valued at $400 or less, without the persons consent. In most cases, petty theft is considered a misdemeanor. Grand theft is taking another persons property, valued at $400 or greater, without the persons consent. Many grand theft crimes are considered felonies.

Frequently Committed Theft Crimes
Theft crimes in California include many different offenses including auto theft (GTA), burglary, embezzlement, extortion, fraud, grand theft, petty theft, identity theft, shoplifting, robbery, receiving stolen property, and other offenses.

Theft Crime Penalties
In California, theft crime charges can range from a minor shoplifting charge (for stealing something valued under $400) to grand theft, which can be charged as a felony and could require a state prison sentence. There is no such thing as a simple theft crime. It all depends on the nature of the crime, including the value of the property taken, any prior related theft convictions, or other circumstances.

Petty Theft 
In most cases, first offenses such as shoplifting are punishable by a small fine and 1 to 3 years of informal probation. In some cases, a first offense can be reduced to an infraction, thus eliminating any criminal record. A second or third theft/shoplifting offense is a much more serious matter because of the consequences. It can be charged as Felony Petty Theft (also called petty theft with a prior  a violation of Penal Code section 666) and is punishable by a year in county jail or even 16 months in state prison.

Grand Theft 
When a person steals goods worth over $400 or money exceeding $400, it is a serious offense and can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. With grand theft offenses a person could be facing a number of penalties, including imprisonment, probation or parole, restitution, court-ordered counseling, fines and fees, and community service or physical labor.

If you have been arrested or accused of a theft crime, it is important to retain an attorney with experience in theft cases in order to get a favorable result. There’s no doubt that an attorney who is not as familiar with the nuances of various theft laws may miss an important opportunity for dropped or reduced charges, or even an acquittal!