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San Diego Theft Crime Defense Lawyers

Work With a Board-Certified Criminal Defense Specialist in San Diego

Most people charged with a theft crime are good people who simply made a mistake, or who are innocent altogether. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we have the experience to defend those facing misdemeanor or felony theft charges. Attorney James N. Dicks, a former police officer and narcotics investigator, heads up our criminal defense team.

Attorney Dicks is a board-certified criminal law specialist, a distinction earned by those who have undertaken additional training to enhance their skills. We employ those abilities to seek out the best strategy for your defense and we are dedicated to zealously protecting your rights.

Call (760) 630-2000 now if you have been arrested for a theft crime and need the best defense possible.

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What Are Common Theft Crimes?

There are many different theft charges a person may face after being arrested for theft. The most common in California are:

  • Petty theft: (Penal Code 488 PC) The unlawful taking of property valued at $950 or less. Shoplifting often falls into this category. Misdemeanor.
  • Grand theft: (Penal Code 487 PC) The unlawful taking of property valued at $950 or more. The “reasonable fair market value” is used to determine the charge. May be charged as misdemeanor or felony (a “wobbler”).
  • Grand theft of a firearm: (Penal Code 487 PC) Theft of a firearm worth more than $950, or theft of a firearm when the accused has a record of serious felony conviction or is a registered sex offender. Felony.
  • Grand theft auto: (Penal Code 487 PC) The unlawful taking of a vehicle with the intention to keep it permanently or a “substantial” period of time. If that was not the intention, the accused may be charged with joyriding instead. Felony.
  • Burglary: (Penal Code 459 PC) Occurs when a person enters or breaks into another’s property with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. If the break-in occurs at a residence, the charge is first-degree burglary. At a store or business, it is second-degree burglary. First-degree is a felony; second-degree is a wobbler.
  • Auto burglary: (Penal Code 459 PC) Occurs when a person enters or breaks into another’s vehicle with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside. A subset of burglary that is charged as second-degree burglary. A wobbler.
  • Shoplifting: (Penal Code 495.5 PC) Entering an open business with the intent to steal $950 or less in items. A misdemeanor unless the accused has prior convictions for a serious felony or is a registered sex offender.
  • Embezzlement: (Penal Code 503 PC) Taking or converting for use property that has been entrusted to you by someone else. Punished as grand theft or petty theft, depending on the value of the items or amount in question. Wobbler.
  • Receiving stolen property: (Penal Code 496a PC) If you know property is stolen, it is illegal to buy, receive, conceal, sell, or withhold it from the owner. Wobbler.
  • Robbery: (Penal Code 211 PC) Taking personal property from someone else with the use of force or fear. Charges determined by the number of victims rather than the number of items taken. Felony.
  • Carjacking: (Penal Code 215 PC) Taking control of a vehicle from another person by use of force or fear. Felony.
  • Mail theft: (Penal Code 530.5 PC) Stealing, destroying, hiding, opening another person’s mail. May be a state or federal crime depending on the circumstances. In California, a misdemeanor.
  • Forgery: (Penal Code 470 PC) When you sign someone else’s name, forge handwriting, or alter or create a legal or financial document for the purposes of fraud. Wobbler.
  • Identity Theft: (Penal Code 530.5 PC) Taking another person’s information to use in an unlawful or fraudulent manner. Wobbler.
  • Fraud: Not a specifically defined crime in itself but applied to many other charges, fraud occurs when the accused committed an act to unfairly benefit himself or cause harm to others using deception. Many types of fraud are wobblers.

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Proposition 47

In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 47, which turned many felony crimes into misdemeanors under California law. Those who have been charged with theft crimes such as felony burglary, receiving stolen property, check fraud, forgery, grand theft of a firearm, or grand theft auto should speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. Having a felony sentence reduced to a misdemeanor can greatly reduce time spent in jail and may negate other consequences, such as being a registered felon in the state of California.

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Penalties for Misdemeanor & Felony Theft Crimes

In addition to those listed above, theft crimes encompass white collar crimes such as accounting fraud, bank fraud, embezzlement, extortion, government fraud, and others. The penalties you could face for theft depend largely upon the type of theft described in your charge and the value of the goods or assets acquired through the crime. At the very least, conviction is likely to result in a fine.

Typical consequences for theft crimes are as follows:

  • Less Than $50 of Goods - A fine is often the only punishment for a first-time offense.
  • $950 or More of Goods - A fine, jail sentencing for 16 months to 2 years, and more extensive penalties are generally reserved for large-scale operations and grand theft of items.

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Skilled Defense for San Diego Misdemeanor & Felony Theft Crimes

An experienced attorney may be able to help you beat the charges and resume life without a criminal record following you around.

At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our theft crime attorneys will examine the facts of your case. If they find that the prosecutor does not have the evidence needed to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, they will challenge that evidence in court. This can result in the case being dropped, or you winning a successful "not guilty" plea at trial.

There are some cases where the evidence presented by the prosecution may be damaging to you. Even in these instances, our defense attorneys will work to negotiate an agreement so the charges can be dismissed or reduced.

For instance, if you are charged with a theft crime in Vista, but it is your first criminal offense, we can argue that you simply made a mistake and that you are remorseful for that mistake. You can agree to pay retribution to the person wronged, agree to do community service, or attend theft counseling. This is often enough to have the charges dropped, so you do not have to have a criminal record.

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Get a Free Case Evaluation from a San Diego Theft Defense Attorney

When you work with jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we take a stand against your charges. If you are a first-time offender charged with misdemeanor theft in North County, you may qualify for a diversion program instead of jail. Even if you are battling a felony charge or face the possibility of a consecutive conviction, one of our primary concerns is protecting your rights. No matter the circumstances surrounding your arrest for theft, our San Diego criminal defense lawyers are prepared to help you.

To discuss your legal options and your next step, contact our firm at (760) 630-2000 for a free consult.

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Sample of Case Results

  • Petty Theft -
    Charges Reduced
  • Fraudulent Appropriation by Clerk -
    Charges Reduced to an Infraction

View more case results here.

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James N. Dicks

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