What is Theft Crime?
A theft crime is classified as an unlawful and unauthorized taking of another’s property with the intent to gain. According to California law, in order for a theft to happen, the offender must have the intent of depriving the owner of his property permanently.
Theft has different categories: larceny, embezzlement and false pretenses.
- Larceny is the crime most commonly known as “theft.”
- Embezzlement is the misappropriation of funds placed in the trust of someone who has lawful possession of it.
- False pretense is when a person obtains the personal property of another through forgery or fraudulent statements with the intent of depriving the lawful owner of his property.
Theft Crimes in California
Theft is classified in California according to the reasonable and fair market value of the property stolen. The law in California penalizes several kinds of theft offenses such as:
- Petty Theft– it is considered petty theft if the amount or value stolen is $400 or less. This is a misdemeanor punishable up to six months of jail, a fine of less than $1,000, community service, probation, and counseling. If the property stolen is $50 or below and the offender had no other conviction related to theft, it is the discretion of the prosecutor if the offense will be charged with an infraction. If the offender has been previously convicted of petty theft, the prosecution may file the second offense as a felony charge rather than a misdemeanor. The penalty is up to 3 years in prison, counseling, probation or parole, fines, as well as community service.
- Shoplifting– Proposition 47 was approved in November 2014 in which shoplifting was added to the Penal Code. An offender intending to steal any item from a retail establishment worth $950 or less is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable for up to 1 year in jail. Taking the merchandise must be done with intent to steal. Otherwise, shoplifting won’t apply if the taking was done through an accident without any desire to deprive the store if the items.
Aside from being criminally liable for this offense, he is also civilly liable to the store owner for:
- Damages $50 to $500
- The value of the stolen product if it is not recovered in a sellable condition
- Grand Theft– this is the stealing of property that amounts to $950 or more may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Aggravating factors are your criminal history, the value of the item taken, whether a weapon was used, and the criminal sophistication necessary to commit the offense. Obviously, the more serious the crime, the more likely the crime will be charged as a felony. It is punishable by 16 months of imprisonment of up to 3 years depending on the severity of the crime.
- Grand Theft Auto– many states including California enacted special statutes dealing with theft of motor vehicles also known as auto theft. Anyone caught stealing or attempting to steal a vehicle will be punished severely.
Common Theft Crimes in California:
- Shoplifting or Petty theft
- Petty theft with a Prior
- Grand theft
- Armed robbery
- Vehicular theft
- Money Laundering
- Credit Card Fraud
- Identity theft
The crimes and penalties for theft vary based on the items stolen, its value, as well as the criminal record of the offender.
Are you facing charges of theft?
There are many kinds of theft and due to the severity of the consequences, consulting a criminal defense attorney well-versed in handling theft cases is important especially if you’re not certain of your specific situation. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will help you explore the defenses you may have, discuss your rights, safety plans and options available to you, as well as represent you in a criminal court if the case goes on trial. Call us now at the Law Offices of Marc Grossman for a free consultation.