Theft

Theft is the unlawful taking and carrying away of someone else's property. Theft charges in Califomia are serious and carry severe penalties depending upon the nature of the crime. Some people assume that theft charges are a fairly simple misdemeanor matter that can be handled in court without an attorney.

NOT TRUE! Theft charges and theft convictions are far from simple matters. Depending on the value of the merchandise or property taken any prior related theft convictions, theft crimes can be prosecuted as felonies and as such could require a state prison sentence. California law includes the following as Theft Crimes:

  • Shoplifting or Petty Theft
  • Larceny
  • Embezzlement
  • Grand Theft
  • Burglary
  • Forgery
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • False Pretenses
  • Identity Theft
  • Robbery
  • Receipt of Stolen Property


Larceny is divided into two degrees: Petty Theft and Grand Theft. Petty Theft or stealing merchandise valued at less than $950 from a retail store, library, utility or person.

• First-time offenders are looking at a misdemeanor with a maximum of 1 year in jail, restitution and approximately $200 in fines. As a general rule, first-time offenders can avoid jail completely.

• Subsequent offenses can be charged as a felony and come with some serious penalties. (Petty Theft with a prior constitutes a felony and is charged under Penal Code Section 666).

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