Theft Attorney Referral Service

In the years 2010 to 2012 there was an average of 230 criminal cases for theft in the San Fernando Valley. Being charged with a theft crime is a serious matter – if charged with theft, you can face jail time of up to 3 years and steep fines of up to $1,000. Because theft is a crime, the prosecution must prove that the acts charged fall under the legal definition of ‘theft’ or any of the types of theft.

What is considered theft? What is larceny?

Theft is generally the unlawful taking of property belonging to another person. It is used interchangeably with “larceny’ in accordance with section 490a of the California Penal Code which treats any statutory reference to larceny, embezzlement or stealing as theft.

What are the different types of theft?

Grand theft: Sec. 487 of the California Penal Code generally classifies theft as ‘grand theft’ when the value of the property taken or when the property involved exceeds $950. In certain cases, it is still ‘grand theft’ when the property taken are domestic fowls, agricultural crops, fish and other agricultural products valued at more than $250, or an automobile, regardless of value.

Petty theft: Any other unlawful taking of property not falling under Grand Theft shall be considered as ‘petty theft.’

Penalties for theft

Theft penalties vary and depend on the degree of the crime established. Petty theft, which is the most common crime against property in San Fernando Valley is generally punished by imprisonment of up to 6 months or a fine up to $1,000, or both imprisonment and fine.

If the crime of petty theft involves property valued at below $50, petty theft may be punished as a misdemeanor or infraction at the discretion of the prosecutor. To qualify as a misdemeanor, the accused must not have a previous theft or theft-related conviction. As a misdemeanor, petty theft may carry a lower penalty consisting of a fine of not more than $250.

Grand theft is punished more severely, usually with jail time ranging from 1 to 3 years or with a fine of up to $5,000 or both. The penalties for grand theft under the California Penal Code depend on the type of property that was taken. Prior criminal convictions of theft or theft-related crimes can also lead to higher penalties or longer jail times.

Theft by a minor

When an un-emancipated minor commits petty theft of merchandise or library books and materials, the parent or legal guardian of the minor may be liable (together with the minor) for the payment of damages ranging from $50 to $500 plus costs, and the retail value of the merchandise if it is no longer in merchantable condition.

How can an attorney help defend me in these charges?

The United States Constitution guarantees that every person accused of a crime has the right to be presumed innocent. Thus, the prosecution must be able to prove that the accused indeed committed the crime of theft by establishing all its elements as defined in the California Penal Code.

If you are charged with the crime of theft, you not only have the right to be presumed innocent but also the right to be heard through an attorney during court proceedings.

An attorney can study your case and determine the legal defenses available to you. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, your criminal defense lawyer may raise the defenses of:

  • Right of ownership and possession of the property
  • Mistake of fact or law
  • Property owner’s consent
  • Entrapment
  • Intoxication amounting to lack of intent to steal

In San Fernando Valley, California, finding a criminal defense lawyer is fast, discreet and convenient through our online lawyer referral system. The SFVBA lawyer referral system helps you connect with skilled and experienced criminal defense attorneys.