Petty Theft

Petty theft is a misdemeanor offense under California Penal Code section 484. It is defined as the theft of property valued at less than $950. This means that if you take someone else’s property without their permission, and the value of the property is less than $950, you could be charged with petty theft.

The penalties for petty theft depend on the specific circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history. In general, a conviction for petty theft can carry a sentence of up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both jail time and a fine. However, if the defendant has a prior theft-related conviction, the penalties may be more severe.

There are several different types of conduct that can be considered petty theft under California law. Some examples include:

  • Shoplifting: Taking items from a store without paying for them is considered petty theft.
  • Embezzlement: If you are entrusted with someone else’s property and you take it for your own use or benefit, you could be charged with petty theft through embezzlement.
  • Receiving stolen property: If you knowingly receive or possess property that you know or believe to be stolen, you could be charged with petty theft.
  • Auto burglary: Breaking into a vehicle and taking items from it without the owner’s permission is considered petty theft.

To prove that you are guilty of petty theft, the prosecutor must show that you took someone else’s property without their consent, and that you intended to permanently deprive them of the property. The prosecutor must also show that the value of the stolen property was less than $950.

If you are charged with petty theft, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and the potential consequences of a conviction, and can help you develop a defense strategy. There are several defenses that may be available to you in a petty theft case, including:

  • Lack of intent: If you did not intend to permanently deprive the owner of the property, you may be able to argue that you did not commit petty theft.
  • Mistake of fact: If you believed that you had the right to take the property, or that the owner had given you permission to do so, you may be able to argue that you made a mistake of fact.
  • Lack of knowledge: If you did not know that the property was stolen, you may be able to argue that you did not commit petty theft.

It’s important to remember that a petty theft conviction can have serious consequences, including jail time, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are facing petty theft charges, it is important to take the charges seriously and seek the help of an experienced attorney.