California Theft/Shoplifting Laws

Theft and shoplifting are the most commonly prosecuted property crimes in California. Whether you left a store and forgot to pay for something or even if a lapse in judgment found you driving a stolen car, we can help.

Sometimes in life we do things we later regret. When money is tight and you and your family have needs it can push you to do things you normally wouldn’t even consider. Or maybe you just acted on a crazy impulse. After the fact it is easy to recognize what happened was wrong. Unfortunately, without an experienced California criminal defense attorney on your side, the court doesn’t often get to hear your side of the story.

Just because you are facing a theft or shoplifting charge, that doesn’t mean you deserve to be be punished harshly and treated like a criminal. Because of our extensive criminal defense experience we have handled many theft cases and probably some very similar to yours. However, we are interested in you and in your case. We will give your case the attention it deserves and do our best to successfully defend you against the theft, shoplifting, or related charges you are facing.

Call us for a free case evaluation and criminal defense legal consultation on any theft, shoplifting, or other criminal offense in California. We will fight to get you fair treatment under the law and a second chance. Call today for a consultation.

Petty Theft & Shoplifting Penalties

Petty theft involves the taking of property whose value is less than $400. If you are charged and convicted of misdemeanor petty theft, you may be sentenced to up to 6 months in jail and fines ranging from $50- $1,000.

If the value of the property taken is less than $50, you may be charged with a simple infraction. An infraction is less in severity than a misdemeanor and the penalty for infraction petty theft is a fine less than $250.

The option to prosecute your petty theft charge as an infraction is one that rests with the prosecution. Typically it depends on whether or not you have any prior theft convictions.

Ref: California Petty Theft & Shoplifting Laws - California Penal Code Section 490

Grand Theft Laws & Penalties

Grand theft applies to acts of theft where the value of the property is more than $400. Grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. This decision is made by the prosecution and is determined by any past convictions on your record.

Grand theft is punishable by fines and up to one year in jail or state prison.

If, however, the theft involves a firearm, the punishment is increased to 16 months- 3 years in a California state prison.

ref: California Grand Theft Laws – California Penal Code Section 487

Grand Theft Auto – Laws & Penalties

If you take or are found driving the vehicle of another person without their permission you may be charged with grand theft auto. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

As a first time offender you may face up to one year in jail or state prison and fines up to $5,000. If this isn’t your first conviction, the prosecutor will be more likely to charge with a felony.

Ref: CA Grand Theft Auto Laws – California Vehicle Code 10-851

California Theft by Receiving Laws

If you are found in possession of stolen property you may be charged with the offense of theft by receiving (also known as receiving stolen property). The classification of this charge, misdemeanor or felony, is made by the prosecution. Under California law, receiving stolen property / theft by receiving carries a potential sentence of up to one year in jail or prison and fines.

Ref: CA Theft by Receiving Laws - California Penal Code Section 496

California Felony Petty Theft Law

In a section that is often referred to as “felony petty theft“, California penal code section 666 states that if you are convicted of theft for a third time you can face felony charges. Even if both priors were petty theft and the third is also, you may be facing felony charges and one year in state prison.

This section of California Criminal Law has received much publicity for sending people to prison for minor offenses. Despite its harsh consequences, it is in the law and the courts do practice it.

Theft Penalties – Aggravated Theft

There are aggravating circumstances that can make these charges more serious. Theft from the elderly is a more serious offense, and can result in enhanced penalties at sentencing. Stealing from an elderly, infirmed, or incapacitated person is considered a more serious crime.

Accused of Shoplifting/Theft in California? Free Legal Case Evaluation from an Experienced CA Theft Defense Attorney

Though theft and shoplifting offenses are common in California, they are not to be taken lightly. Because you may be facing prison time and hefty fines, it is vital that you get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. And any criminal charge can result in a permanent criminal record that can follow you for the rest of you life.

Make sure your rights are defended, and you aren’t punished unfairly, or more severely then you deserve. You are innocent until proven guilty, and deserve fair treatment under the law. Call our attorneys for a free consultation on your California theft charges today.