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Petty Theft Defense Attorneys in San Diego

Understanding the Elements of Burglary

Under California Penal Code Section 484 and 488, petty theft is defined as the illegal taking, or stealing, of property that belongs to someone else. For petty theft charges to apply, the property stolen must be valued under $950.

While most petty theft crimes will be charged as misdemeanors, these are still serious charges. The mark they leave on your criminal record can stay with you for an entire lifetime. If you have been charged with petty theft in Vista or North County, speak to our defense team at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys today. We know how to tackle these charges and get our clients the most successful outcome possible. For a free consultation, call (760) 630-2000.

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Types of Petty Theft Charges in California

Most petty theft crimes will be charged as larceny, the act of taking someone else’s property without his or her permission. To convict someone of larceny, the prosecution must prove the accused took the property in order to keep it from the owner permanently, or to deprive the owner of the value or enjoyment of the property. Petty theft charges may also apply if a person took another’s property and moved it, even a small distance, for any period of time.

Another type of petty theft is theft by false pretense. Under this charge, a person must have taken property belonging to another under false pretenses, such as saying that the owner would get it back or get another item of equal value. The owner willingly gave the accused his property, but the promise was not fulfilled.

Theft by trick is another type of petty theft crime. Theft by trick is defined as one person tricking or deceiving another person into giving up property that does not belong to that person. For instance, if someone took a price tag off an item in a store and replaced it with a less expensive price tag to purchase it, this would be considered theft by trick.

Embezzlement is a type of petty theft that is considered a white-collar crime. In embezzlement cases, it must be shown that the accused took property that did not belong to him, but that someone else had entrusted him with that property. Most of the time, the property in question is money.

Shoplifting is a relatively new petty theft crime in California. Historically, this was charged as burglary. But in November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 64, which made shoplifting a separate offense. The act of shoplifting is entering a business, most often a retail store, during regular business hours and stealing property that is valued at less than $950. Even if the accused was not successful in stealing the property, the intent to steal is enough to be charged with shoplifting.

Petty theft with a prior conviction is treated as a separate crime. Those accused of this crime face increased penalties for a petty theft conviction. For a prior conviction to be applicable to a petty theft with priors charge, the individual must have a prior conviction for stealing from or defrauding an elderly person, a prior sex crime registered in California’s Sex Offender Registration, or a prior violent felony.

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California Grand Theft Charges

Charges of theft can escalate into grand theft if one of several conditions is met. The first is that the property must be valued over $950. Generally, the prosecution will use fair market value to determine the value of property stolen.

Those with certain prior convictions may also be charged with grand theft, even if the value of the property stolen is less than $950. These prior convictions include a sex crime under California’s Sex Offender Registration Act, or a particularly serious felony like murder, attempted murder, forcible sex crimes, and sex crimes against children under the age of 14.

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Speak to a San Diego Petty Theft Defense Lawyer

Petty theft should be a relatively simple crime to deal with. But there are many conditions and elements that can quickly complicate it.

If you have been charged with petty theft, speak to a theft defense attorney who can help you. Even being convicted of the smallest petty crime can result in a permanent criminal record. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, we will work hard to ensure that does not happen, and provide you with the defense you deserve. Our lead attorney is a former LAPD detective who is board certified in criminal law, and has seen both sides of the courtroom. Call us today at (760) 630-2000 so we can start reviewing your case in a free consultation.

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