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Petty Theft Defense Attorney 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, speak to our defense team at jD LAW, P.C. 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 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 Theft Attorney

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, P.C., 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 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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Sample of Case Results

  • Petty Theft -
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James N. Dicks

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A note from James N. Dicks:

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law.

Currently San Diego Superior Courts are closed but are set to reopen on Friday May 1st, 2020 barring any
future orders.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family. Please follow us on Facebook for any future updates.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law.

Los Tribunales Superiores de San Diego están cerrados, pero están programados para reabrir el viernes 1 de mayo de 2020, salvo una nueva orden.

No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia. Síganos en Facebook para seguir siendo informado de novedades nuevas.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

Although COVID-19 has caused great uncertainty, we want to assure that our firm is operating remotely to accommodate all current, past, and future clients in need of any of our services. The best way to communicate with us is by telephone (760) 630-2000 or email info@jdlaw.law. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. Sending our thoughts and best wishes to you and your family.


Aunque COVID-19 ha causado una gran incertidumbre, queremos asegurarles que nuestra oficina esta operando de forma remota para todos los clientes actuales, pasados y futuros que necesiten alguno de nuestros servicios. La mejor manera de comunicarse con nosotros es por teléfono (760) 630-2000 o por correo electrónico a info@jdlaw.law. No dude en contactarnos si tiene alguna pregunta. Estamos enviando nuestros pensamientos y mejores deseos para usted y su familia.

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