Crimes Against Property
Arrested & charged with a crime? Call us for FREE consultation.
Sacramento Criminal Attorney
Petty theft in California is defined as the unlawful taking of property valued at $950 or less. The majority of petty theft cases revolve around a situation in which one individual physically takes property that belongs to someone else. This is considered larceny.
Petty theft is considered a misdemeanor and may result in any combination of the following consequences:
- A fine of up to $1000
- Up to 6 months in jail
- Informal (summary) probation
The specific legal definition of larceny is as follows:
- The property was owned by another individual.
- The property was taken without permission from the owner.
- The taking of property was intended to either: deprive the owner of that property permanently or deprive the owner of that property for a long enough period of time that the owner would miss a significant portion of the value or enjoyment of the property
- The property was moved and kept for a period of time, no matter how brief or how far
There are several legal defenses that may be used when fighting a petty theft charge in California. It is important to seek advice from an experienced Sacramento criminal attorney to increase your chances of reducing or dismissing the charges against you. Some of the common legal defense used against petty theft charges include the following:
- The charged individual did not steal the item in question
- The property belonged to the charged individual
- The property owner granted permission to the charged individual – The property must have been used or held within the scope of permission (time and distance from the owner)
- The charged individual was falsely accused – Individuals may be framed
- The charged individual did not intend to steal the property in question – Property may be stolen accidentally, such as by leaving a store not realizing you were still holding an item, or mistaking another’s item as your own.
Petty Theft vs Grand Theft
The major difference between petty and grand theft is the value of the stolen property. Petty theft relates to property with a maximum value of $950 while grand theft relates to property above that value.
Before 2015, the following thefts were always considered grand theft despite the actual value of the property:
- A vehicle
- A firearm
- Thieving property directly off the person
These forms of theft are still considered grand theft when the charged individual has one of the following prior convictions:
- A conviction for a sex crime that requires sex offender registration
- An especially serious felony including: murder, attempted murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, forcible sex crimes, sex crimes against persons under 14 years of age
Determining the precise value of property can be somewhat difficult. Courts generally use something called “fair market value,” which is the highest price at which the property could be reasonably sold. Sometimes this value is obvious, such as in shoplifting. In most personal petty theft crimes, determining the current value of property that was purchased a long time ago can be complicated.
Grand theft is a wobbler, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Being charged with a felony crime is much more serious in the sentencing as well as how it affects your life (e.g. voting, gun ownership, employment can all be affected). A skilled Sacramento criminal attorney can help mitigate your situation.
The misdemeanor grand theft penalties include a one year in county jail. The felony grand theft penalties include either Sixteen months, 2 years, or 3 years in county jail. This time is spent in state prison if a firearm was involved.
Grand Theft Auto
For most theft cases, lawyers can argue about whether the crime qualifies as petty theft or grand theft charge, depending on the current value of the stolen property. When an individual is charged with grand theft, it can be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony. The theft of an automobile is a form of grand theft, and can also be charged as a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the details of the crime. Typically, grand theft is charged as a felony and can result in 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail.
Grand theft auto is defined as the taking of a vehicle without the owner’s permission with the intent to deprive the owner of the car permanently. For example, a friend who borrows a car without the owner’s permission would be charged with theft and unlawful taking. Unlawful taking of a vehicle can also be a felony or misdemeanor but is usually charged as a misdemeanor for first time offenses. This charge may result in a fine of up to $5000 and up to a year in county jail. These penalties can affect your life in many ways. Make sure to seek the advice of a skilled Sacramento criminal attorney.
Burglary is defined as the entering of a building or enclosure with the intent to commit a felony or a grand theft. This can be an additional charge to petty or grand theft, depending on what is stolen. Burglary is a felony which can result in the following:
- Up to 3 years in county jail
- Up to 6 years in California state prison – If the property was inhabited
For any crime relating to theft, it is important to seek an experienced Sacramento criminal attorney to help you defend yourself in court.
Call Our Sacramento Criminal Attorney
The Law Office of Wing & Parisi is dedicated to providing exceptional customer service and excellent legal representation for those charged with a crime. Whether it’s your first charge or your second, you need a dedicated and skilled attorney by your side. Contact us online or call at (916) 441-4888 for a free and confidential case consultation, available in Spanish. We appear in state and federal courts in the Sacramento and Davis communities as well as throughout Placer and San Joaquin counties.