Being charged with a theft crime in California can lead to a wide range of potential penalties.
However, a conviction will result in a criminal record every time. In addition, a theft crime could even result in a conviction for a crime of “moral turpitude” which could follow you for the rest of your life.
If you’ve been accused of stealing, it is important to take prompt steps to defend against the charge you are facing and try to avoid the harsh consequences that a criminal record entails.
The criminal justice system can be intimidating, especially if it is your first offense. Regardless if you committed the crime or not, we believe that a criminal charge should not ruin your life.
Bryan R. Kazarian is an experienced Orange County theft attorney who will defend your rights, guide you through the process, and ensure that you are in the best possible shape to move ahead with your life.
Theft charges encompass many different illegal activities across several different penal code sections in California.
They all involve wrongfully taking or stealing someone else’s property. It ranges from petty theft, or shoplifting, to embezzlement and grand theft.
Whether you’re accused of stealing from a neighbor, an employer, or a stranger, the problems are unlikely to simply go away.
Potential punishments increase in scale according to the value of the property you are accused of stealing and your prior criminal record.
Petty theft and shoplifting are defined under California Penal Code § 484 and § 488. These charges involve wrongfully taking or stealing someone else’s property up to the value of $950 (excluding automobiles and firearms).
Petty theft charges are further broken down according to the circumstances of the alleged petty theft and can include petty theft by larceny, by trick, by false pretenses, or by embezzlement.
Petty theft is a misdemeanor offense punishable by jail time of up to six months, and/or a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first offense and up to three years of probation. In reality, if it is your first offense our clients have found that it is unlikely you will serve any jail time.
Petty theft with a prior, however, is a different matter. If you’re charged with petty theft and have suffered a previous theft crime conviction, you may face additional jail time or serve time in state prison time to be served in the county jail.
Larceny is a form of theft rather than a separate charge.
You can be charged with petty theft by larceny or grand theft by larceny depending on the value of the property and the manner in which the property was allegedly stolen.
Larceny is probably the most common form of theft, whereby a person physically takes someone else’s property with the specific intent of not returning that property. (e.g., taking someone else’s cash, jewelry, bicycle, etc.)