The California criminal defense lawyers of this firm offer decades of experience defending clients against theft-related charges throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside and Orange Counties.
Many people charged with theft crimes are good, productive citizens who made an unfortunate mistake...and deserve a second chance rather than a permanent criminal record and jail time. Moreover, sometimes innocent people get wrongly accused of theft crimes based on false allegations or misleading evidence.
Our California theft crimes attorneys have succeeded in getting charges reduced or dismissed in such cases as Petty Theft, Grand Theft, Identity Theft, Appropriation of Lost Property, Receiving Stolen Property, Burglary, Grand Theft Auto, Grand Theft Firearm, Theft of US Mail, Auto Burglary and Embezzlement.
A California theft-related conviction can be particularly harmful in terms of gaining future employment, state licensing and other benefits. Although most theft convictions can eventually be expunged, they will still surface on background checks. Employers tend to shy away from applicants with theft records, fearing them to be dishonest and having the potential to steal from their companies.
Moreover, most California theft offenses are considered "crimes of moral turpitude." This means that state license boards often cite theft convictions as a reason to deny licenses and certifications, such as a contractors license, a nursing license or a real estate license. These convictions may also pose immigration consequences for immigrants seeking a visa, green card or naturalization to the United States.
Passed by California voters in November 2014, Proposition 47 turned a number of felony crimes into misdemeanors. If you have been convicted of felony burglary, receiving stolen property, check fraud, forgery, grand theft firearm or grand theft auto, you may be eligible to have your felony sentence reduced per Proposition 47.
Fighting a California Theft Charge
Now for some good news. An experienced California theft crimes attorney can often help you defeat the charge and keep the matter off your record. Our first approach to every theft crimes case is to scrutinize the facts to see if the prosecutor really has enough evidence to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If not, we can challenge the evidence in court and often get the case dropped or win a "not guilty" verdict at trial.
Sometimes the prosecution's evidence may be overwhelming. Even then, California criminal defense lawyers can often negotiate an arrangement with the judge or prosecutor to get the theft charges reduced or dismissed.
This is especially true in first offense theft cases, where the client has no record and just made a bad mistake. If you agree to repay the victim and to do a course of community service or theft counseling, often we can convince the D.A. or the court to drop the charges and spare the client the stigma of a permanent criminal record.
Common California Theft Crimes
Petty Theft: Under Penal Code 484 and 488, this is the stealing of property valued up to $950. Although the offense is a misdemeanor, a second offense can be charged as a felony under Penal Code 666 (Petty Theft with a Prior).
Grand Theft: Under Penal Code 487, this is the stealing of property valued at more than $950. It may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Grand Theft of a Firearm: Any theft of a firearm counts as "grand theft", regardless of the value of the gun. This offense is a felony if the firearm is more than $950 in value, and a misdemeanor otherwise.
Grand Theft Auto: California law treats theft of an automobile as "grand theft" if the value of more than $950, and "petty theft" if the value is $950.00 or less.
Burglary: Entering a structure with the intent to commit a felony or theft inside constitutes burglary in California. If the structure is a home or "inhabited dwelling,"residential burglary may be charged (which counts as a "strike" pursuant to California Three Strikes Laws).
Auto Burglary: Breaking into a locked vehicle for the purpose of stealing it constitutes "auto burglary" under California law.
Shoplifting: Entering a commercial establishment while it is open with the intent to commit petty theft inside is the crime of shoplifting under Penal Code 459.5 PC.
Embezzlement: A person who wrongfully steals or misappropriates property entrusted to him by the rightful owner may be charged with a California embezzlement.
Receiving Stolen Property: This occurs when someone purchases or receives property that he/she knows (or reasonably should know) is stolen.
Robbery: A person commits Robbery in California if he uses violence, force or threats to take property from someone's immediate possession. This too counts as a strike under California Three Strikes Laws.
Carjacking: This is basically robbery of a vehicle. If one uses force or fear to take a vehicle from someone's immediate possession, a California carjacking may be charged.
Mail Theft: Theft of US mail under Penal Code 530.5(e) is a distinct offense. It occurs whenever someone knowingly takes mail that does not belong to them from a mailbox, post office or letter carrier. This crime is also charged when someone knowingly removes the contents of someone else's mail or knowingly receives or possesses stolen mail.
Call us for help
If you or a loved one is charged with shoplifting and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.
To learn about Nevada theft laws, go to our page on Nevada theft laws.
¿Habla español? Visite nuestro sitio Web en español sobre nuestros abogados de delitos de robo en California.