Types of Theft in California

When it comes to stealing things, the laws in California have pretty defined lines. Still, the difference in value and the items stolen can drive the charge from a misdemeanor to a felony, fast. The charges that one receives depend on a few things, including the value of the items stolen and the criminal record of the one accused.

Theft and Penalties in California

To put a value on items stolen, California lawmakers use the fair market value. Depending on the amount that is decided on, the act of theft can be classified in a few ways. Four of the most common classifications of theft are listed below.

1. Petty Theft

The lowest classification of theft, petty theft is defined as anything stolen with a value of less than $950. When someone is charged and convicted of petty theft, they could face jail time and fines up to $1000. There are exceptions when fines are brushed off, including if they are under $50.
At the same time, there are also instances where the charges will increase due to prior convictions. Those with a criminal record convicted of petty theft could see a bump up to felony of face longer jail time and higher fines.

2. Grand Theft

Anything that is over $950 is considered grand theft. Grand theft also includes the theft of firearms, no matter what the value. Grand theft is a wobbler and depends on the value and the item stolen. In the case of a firearm, those prosecuted will be looking at a felony charge and likely spend time in jail.
Grand theft often results in jail time and fines and can go up depending on the value of the items stolen and the criminal record of the accused.

3. Looting

Looting is defined as the theft of property during a state of emergency. Those who steal items during this time could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances.

4. Shoplifting

Shoplifters could get in double trouble thanks to criminal and civil liabilities. For instance, shoplifting results in a misdemeanor charge but may also include damages and other fees to be paid to the institution where the item was stolen. If the store has to order or repair damages due to the theft, it could fall on the shoulders of the accused.

Defenses for Theft in California

For those accused of theft of any kind, there are several defenses that can be used. Among the most common is to point out a misunderstanding, claiming that the accused didn’t know that item was not theirs. Though it seems solid, theft should not be defended alone.

Instead, the accused should seek legal counsel that not only knows their rights but, know common defenses to properly defend their case. Finding a defense attorney in California is simple but, not all of them are created equal. Make sure to do your homework and choose representation that can keep you from the ugly side of the justice system.