In California, theft is defined as intentionally and unlawfully taking another’s person’s property with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of it. You can be charged with petty or grand theft depending upon the value of the property that was allegedly stolen. The penalties vary with the type of charge and, there may be civil as well as criminal penalties.
California theft law determines whether you are charged with petty or grand theft according to the reasonable and fair market value of the property stolen or services not paid for. Petty theft applies to property valued at less than $950. If you have no prior theft conviction, you may be charged with an infraction or misdemeanor and sentenced to up to six months in jail and/or fined up to $1,000.
Taking property valued at $950 or more is charged as grand theft. If you allegedly stole a vehicle, firearms or livestock, you will be charged with grand theft no matter what the actual value of the property is determined to be.
Other circumstances may exist that allow a prosecutor to charge what seems like petty theft as a felony grand theft. Depending on the type of property and its value, if convicted, you can be sentenced to up to three years in prison and a hefty fine may also be imposed.
Theft related offenses
There are other offenses under California law that are related to theft, but are charged under separate statutes and carry penalties specific to each offense.
- Obtaining credit fraudulently.
- Failing to return books to the library.
- Selling or unlawfully giving your debit or credit card to another person.
- Lying about items you are selling to a pawnbroker.
- Using another person’s credit history in order to secure property or services.
- Fraud offenses in general.
- Identity theft.
Call WilliamH. Allen attorney at law to help with your defense
Theft charges can be daunting and life-changing. If convicted, you will have a criminal record that will stay with you the rest of your life. There may be defenses available to you. You may have thought you had a legal right to the property or you intended to return the property to the owner.
WilliamH. Allen is a San Jose theft attorney who services clients in all surrounding counties as well as the Greater San Francisco Bay area. He has nearly 35 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney and began his career as a Deputy Public Defender.
He knows how to negotiate with prosecutors in order to have charges reduced or dismissed or the punishment mitigated. If negotiations are not in your best interest, he will be fully prepared to vigorously represent you at trial.