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Vista Theft Crime Attorneys


Even the Playing Field with a Former Police Officer

One of the most common crimes the police investigate in Vista is theft, which includes everything from shoplifting to grand theft auto to fraud. If you have been arrested for theft or are under investigation, working with a skilled Vista theft defense lawyer can mean the difference between an acquittal or a conviction. At jD LAW, James N. Dicks brings over 30 years of experience as a trial attorney and additional experience in law enforcement, including as a former police officer. He knows the ins and outs of the criminal process, how cases are prosecuted, and all the key players. Attorney Dicks can offer his insight and extensive knowledge of the latest in criminal defense strategies in a free consultation. To discuss your case with one of the top defense firms in North County, call jD LAW at (760) 630-2000.

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Types of Cases We Handle

Theft can refer to a wide variety of illegal activities, ranging from petty offenses like shoplifting to complex cases involving fraud and embezzlement. At jD LAW, we can defend you in cases of:

  • Petty theft
  • Grand theft
  • Robbery
  • Burglary
  • Shoplifting
  • Auto theft
  • White-collar crimes
  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Credit card fraud
  • Import/export crimes
  • Bank fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Government fraud

Attorney Dicks is also a board certified criminal law specialist, a rare distinction only given to the top attorneys in the field. He regularly attends continuing legal education courses in order to bring the most up-to-date representation to his clients. If you were charged with one of the above crimes, contact our office today to learn how we can defend you in a Vista criminal court.

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How Is Theft Charged in Vista?

The state of California has two main theft crimes: petty theft under California Penal Code 488 and grand theft under Penal Code 487. Both are punished based on the value of the stolen property. Petty theft is a misdemeanor that is charged in cases where a defendant steals less than $950 of goods, property, or cash; it is elevated to grand theft if the stolen goods are valued at least $950 or more. As a wobbler, grand theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the defendant’s criminal record and other factors in the case.

Beyond that, these two crimes follow the same legal definition. In order to be convicted of either petty or grand theft, the Vista district attorney must prove that:

  • You took possession of property that someone else owned;
  • You did not have permission to take the property;
  • You moved the property from where the owner had left it for a period of time; and
  • You intended to deprive the owner of the property’s value or to decrease the value of the property for the owner.

There are other factors that can influence a charge, including whether you are accused of using larceny, fraud, or trickery to steal from someone. For example, burglary only applies when a defendant illegally entered a building with the intent of stealing property, while robbery refers to the act of using violence or threats of violence to commit theft. Depending on the circumstances, you may receive additional penalties, but these unique legal differences can also be crucial to your defense strategy.

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Theft Penalties in California

For years, theft crimes in Vista were punished with harsh penalties, but since the passage of Proposition 47, many have been reduced from felonies to misdemeanors. Now, the penalties for theft depend on the value of the items in question, any prior criminal convictions, and other circumstances unique to your charge. In general, the higher the value of the stolen goods, the harsher the penalties.

Penalties for petty theft include:

  • Up to six months in county jail;
  • Up to $1,000 in fines; and/or
  • Summary probation

Penalties for misdemeanor grand theft include:

  • Up to six months in county jail.

Penalties for felony grand theft include:

  • Up to 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison or up to one year in county jail with formal probation.

In addition to these penalties, defendants can also be required to pay restitution to the victim and given additional sentencing enhancements depending on the value of the stolen property, which includes:

  • An additional one year for property worth at least $65,000
  • An additional two years for property worth at least $200,000
  • An additional three years for property worth at least $1,300,000
  • An additional four years for property worth at least $3,200,000

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Defending Your Future

Theft and larceny make up roughly 65% of all property crimes in California, and San Diego County has seen over 32,000 reported property crimes in a recent year. However, not every case ends in a conviction, and you should not let go of your future on false charges. The laws surrounding theft crimes are very specific in California, and the district attorney in your case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. With the aid of a skilled criminal defense attorney, you may be able to have your charges reduced or dropped.

At jD LAW, we understand both sides of the criminal process and can employ several defense strategies, which can include:

  • You legally owned the property.
  • You, in good faith, believed you owned the property and had a claim of right.
  • You had no intention of stealing the property.
  • The owner had given you permission to take or borrow the property.
  • You were falsely accused.
  • The value of the property is in question, and your charges should be reduced.

Each case is different, and we will need to review the details of your charges to determine the best strategy for you. As a former LAPD investigator, our lead attorney can analyze all sides of your case and find weaknesses in the prosecution’s arguments. Our firm also has experience negotiating with North County district attorneys to have charges reduced or dropped prior to trial. To learn how we can defend your future, do not hesitate to contact us for a free case evaluation.

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Explore Your Options During a Free Case Evaluation

We zealously defend each client and seek the best possible outcome, no matter how tough the charges. Whether you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor or felony theft offense in Vista, there is no cost to sitting down with our team and discussing your legal options. Our skilled Vista criminal defense lawyer can utilize his more than 30 years of legal experience to craft a strong defense strategy on your behalf. Our Vista office is located right across from the North County Courthouse, and you can contact us at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free case evaluation.

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(760) 630-2000

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James N. Dicks

About James N. Dicks

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A note from James N. Dicks:

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.

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