Theft Attorney Orange County

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 have 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 in Orange County

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 are 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

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 are 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.

Theft By Larceny

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.)

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During the consultation, we will help you understand your rights and the charges against you.

Theft By False Pretenses

Theft by false pretenses is another form of theft which, under Penal Code § 532, involves knowingly and intentionally deceiving a property owner by “making a false representation of fact” (or, by saying something that is not true).

If you persuade someone to let you take possession of a piece of property by lying, for instance, this constitutes theft by false pretenses.

Theft By Trick

Theft by trick involves a form of deceit and is close to what is known as “fraud”.

If you obtain property that you know is owned by someone else and you deceive the owner to allow you to take possession of that property (and you intended to deprive the owner of it permanently or for sufficient time that the owner would miss it), this may constitute theft by trick.

Theft By Embezzlement

Penal Code § 503 covers theft by embezzlement, which is the taking or unauthorized use of the property or something of value that belongs to someone else that is entrusted to you.

In most cases, embezzlement occurs in the workplace. If an employee allegedly takes or uses the property of the employer without authorization that may establish the elements for embezzlement under Penal Code § 503.

Theft by embezzlement is charged as either petty theft or grand theft according to the value of property stolen and therefore can be a misdemeanor or felony crime.

Grand Theft

According to Penal Code § 487, grand theft involves wrongfully taking someone’s property with the specific intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property that is valued at over $950.

However, if you unlawfully take certain types of property, such as a firearm or automobile, the crime is treated as grand theft regardless of its value.

Grand theft can be committed by larceny, trick, false pretenses, or embezzlement – just as with petty theft.

It is treated as a “wobbler” offense and, as such, it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. If charged as a felony, a maximum sentence of three years in prison to be served in jail applies.

Defending against theft charges

If you face a charge of theft, resist the temptation to say anything to the arresting officers. Contact our office and we will communicate with law enforcement and your loved ones.

After establishing the facts and examining the evidence against you, our team will start working on your defense. Depending on the precise nature of the alleged crime and the evidence, possible defenses for your actions include:

  • You did not intend to keep the property permanently and merely forgot to return it
  • You believed you had the authorization from the property owner
  • You believed you had the consent from the owner or an “agent” of the owner
  • You borrowed the property in question
  • You assert a claim of right over the property in question

Additionally, law enforcement officers in California frequently make procedural errors when arresting and charging people with crimes.

If your constitutional rights were violated during the first stages of the criminal justice process, our experienced team of attorneys may be able to get you released with the charges dropped.

As an experienced theft lawyer, Bryan R. Kazarian understands how to approach your defense and secure the best possible outcome for your future.

What happens if you are convicted of a theft crime?

The consequences of a conviction for theft in Orange County depend largely upon the following factors:

  • The value of property stolen
  • The nature of the property stolen
  • Your prior criminal record
  • Whether there were aggravating circumstances (generally with theft, there is no physical violence involved or it would be charged as the more serious offense of robbery)
  • The quality of your legal representation

Regardless of the circumstances, if you are facing a theft charge in Orange County, your future rights and freedoms are at stake.

Not only will you face a fine and potential jail time, but you will have a criminal conviction on your record for the rest of your life. This could impact future employment opportunities and freedom of travel.

For non-American citizens, this criminal conviction may preclude the possibility of citizenship and subject you to deportation.

With such serious consequences, it is important to prepare an immediate defense.

Been charged with a theft offense in Orange County?

Bryan R. Kazarian is a former Deputy District Attorney. His years of experience in handling thousands of cases have made him one of Orange County’s most sought-after criminal defense attorneys.

At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, our experienced legal team is ready to protect your Constitutional rights and defend you against theft charges.

*Please note that theft charges are treated separately from robbery or burglary charges in California. 

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.
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