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Petty Theft

Solano County Petty Theft Attorneys

How is "petty theft" defined under California law?

In the state of California, theft is defined as the act of taking property with the intent to deprive the rightful owner of it. While there are numerous subcategories of theft—including shoplifting, auto theft, grand theft, robbery, burglary, etc.—such an offense would only be considered petty theft if the stolen property was valued at $950 or less, the property was not a "special type" (i.e. firearm or vehicle) and the property was not taken from the owner directly (i.e. during a mugging or armed robbery). If all of these factors apply to a specific instance of theft, the offender would be charged with petty theft under California Penal Code § 484 or § 488.

While most of these cases stem from shoplifting, there are several different circumstances that could lead to an arrest for petty theft, including:

  • Theft by fraud – Using deceit or false pretenses to acquire property
  • Theft by embezzlement – Taking property that has been entrusted to you
  • Theft by trick – Purchasing an item for less than it is actually worth

Examining the Penalties for Misdemeanor Theft in Solano County, CA

If you have been arrested for petty theft in California, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. For a first-time offense, you will likely face a maximum fine of $1,000 and a sentence of up to 6 months in county jail. It is important to keep in mind that this would only apply if the stolen property was valued at less than $950, however, as you could be charged with a more serious form of theft if the property was of a more significant value. Similarly, you could be charged with robbery if you had taken someone else's property directly from them. If you had snatched another person's pursue that only ended up having $10 in it, for example, you could still be charged with a robbery offense—which is typically a felony.

How long does shoplifting stay on your record in California?

Items that were shoplifted below $950 is a misdemeanor in California but a second offense can be a felony. If you are convicted of a shoplifting charge in California, the conviction remains on your record forever unless you get it dismissed or expunged. If you were caught shoplifting, you can be left of with a warning, but if criminal charges are filed, the first offense is a misdemeanor if the value of the items taken is $950 or less. If you are convicted of petty theft by larceny, the prosecutor can send you to jail for up to six months, fined by the court, be required to repay the person you stole from and be given a restraining order to stay clear of the premises where you shoplifted. If it is your second shoplifting offense, the prosecutor can charge you with a felony. You can get up to three years in prison for a felony conviction in California. If you are convicted of misdemeanor or felony petty theft, the conviction becomes part of your criminal record and is visible to anyone conducting a criminal background check. It stays on your record until you take action to dismiss or expunge the offense.

What are some plausible legal defenses against petty theft charges?

When you enlist the help of our Solano County criminal defense lawyers from Maas and Russo, you may be able to implement an effective legal defense against your petty theft charges. By proving that the crime did not rise to the level of petty theft, you may be able to reduce your charges or even avoid conviction.

In order to do so, you will need to prove that one or more of the following circumstances existed: a) the property actually belonged to you, b) you did not intend to steal the item, c) the rightful owner allowed you to take the item or d) you were falsely accused of a crime that you did not commit. If you are interested in finding out how our firm can assist you in presenting a valid defense, call today.

Contact Maas and Russo Today for a Free Case Evaluation

Whether you have been accused of shoplifting or committing a more serious theft offense, it is crucial that you retain legal counsel immediately after your arrest. If you do not have our Solano County criminal defense lawyers protecting your rights, there is a good chance that the police will do whatever they can to secure a confession. For this reason, the legal team at Maas and Russo encourages you to take action today by retaining the skilled criminal attorneys from our firm.

When you call our office at (800) 483-0992 or submit a free case evaluation form online, our advice won't cost you a thing.

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