Law is complicated, integrity is not

Dublin Theft Attorney

Defending the Accused in Alameda, San Joaquin, and Contra Costa Counties

The consequences of a theft conviction will range depending on the value of the property allegedly stolen. If you have been accused of committing a theft offense, whether the accusation is unfairly harsh or completely unfounded, reach out to an experienced defense attorney for legal assistance. RLS Criminal Defense is committed to providing honest and truthful representation, laying out all your legal options for you in transparent detail. Let a lawyer with high ethics advocate for your defense.

Schedule a free consultation with RLS Criminal Defense to discuss your theft defense options today.

Types of Theft Offenses

Several types of offenses make up the criminal category of theft. 

California law defines theft as the stealing of property by:

  • larceny – the intentional and unlawful taking of another person’s property;
  • embezzlement – the conversion of a person’s property for unlawful use, even if the defendant initially obtained that property legally;
  • theft by false pretenses – taking another’s property by deception or false representations; or
  • other methods with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property.

Other specific examples of theft include failing to return rented property, defrauding a public housing program, or taking lost property without making an effort to seek out the owner.

Penalties for Theft in California

Theft, whether larceny or embezzlement, is penalized based on the circumstances of the offense and the market value of the stolen property:

  • Petty theft – property with a value of $950 or less
  • Grand theft – property worth more than $950 or property that is a firearm
  • Shoplifting – when a defendant enters a retail store and intends to steal property worth $950 or less

Petty theft is typically charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. If the property is worth $50 or less and the offender does not have other theft convictions, they may instead be charged with an infraction punishable by a $250 fine.

If a defendant is charged with petty theft and has a prior conviction for theft resulting in imprisonment and for a serious or violent offense (e.g., a registerable sex crime or embezzlement of an elderly person), the theft offense will be considered a “wobbler,” which means the judge has the discretion to implement a misdemeanor or felony conviction. If charged as a misdemeanor, the offense will result in up to 1 year in jail; if charged as a felony, it will result in 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail.

The penalties for grand theft will depend on the property stolen. If the property is a firearm, the offense will be a felony punishable by a period of 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison. Otherwise, the offense is a wobbler with either misdemeanor (up to 1 year in jail) or felony sentencing. 

Lastly, shoplifting is a theft offense that carries both criminal and civil penalties. Shoplifting is generally considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in county jail. 

However, the offender may also be liable for the following amounts to the store owner for civil damages:

  • the retail value of the stolen items (if they cannot be returned in sellable condition);
  • $50-$500 in damages; and
  • court costs and attorney fees.

Contact RLS Criminal Defense Today

Facing criminal charges for theft? Contact RLS Criminal Defense for legal guidance immediately. As many theft offenses are wobblers that can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies based on the case, it will be significantly advantageous to have a lawyer who can fight for reduced or mitigated charges. Attorney Ryan Smith can build a case for misdemeanor charges instead of felony charges, and he can even argue for further reduced charges if possible. Don’t give in to your charges without a tough legal fight; reach out to RLS Criminal Defense today.

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