When facing theft or shoplifting charges, it can be easy to feel hopeless, but no matter how bad the charges may seem, an experienced California theft defense attorney may find new angles and details to expose that could influence the outcome of your case. Law enforcement and prosecutors may add additional charges to a theft charge, such as trespassing, breaking and entering, or even resisting arrest, making the situation appear dire. However, a dedicated California shoplifting defense lawyer could find grounds to drop those additional charges, allowing you to focus on the primary focus—the theft or shoplifting charge. 

At Aron Law Firm, we provide clients facing theft or shoplifting charges with a comprehensive analysis of their cases. Our dedicated legal team works tirelessly to obtain the optimal outcome. We are committed to giving our clients and their cases the time and attention they need. Aron Law Firm prioritizes getting our clients to a better place and understanding their unique needs at a deeper level. Regardless of how dire the situation may appear, Aron Law Firm is here to help. 

Types of Theft Charges in California

Theft is one of the oldest types of crime and has evolved over the years to include a variation of the crime. According to California Penal Code 484, some of the variations of theft include:

  • Petty theft: Defined as stealing property valued at less or equal to $950
  • Grand theft: Defined as stealing property valued at more than $950
  • Grand theft auto: Defined as stealing a vehicle valued at more than $950 (petty theft charge applies if the vehicle is valued at less than $950)
  • Burglary: Defined as illegally entering a locked or closed-off building with the intent to steal or commit a felony 
  • Shoplifting: Defined as committing petty theft in a commercial building
  • Embezzlement: Defined as misappropriating or stealing money from a business or organization that has entrusted funds or property to the offender
  • Robbery: Defined as using violence or threat of violence to commit theft 

When charging someone with petty theft or grand theft, a prosecutor must prove the following:

  • The defendant took possession of property owned by another person
  • The person did not consent to the defendant taking the property
  • The defendant took the property and intended to take it permanently or for a significant amount of time

The only difference between being charged with petty theft and grand theft is the value of the property stolen. The crime is considered grand theft if the property is valued at $950 or more. 

What Are the Penalties for Petty Theft?

Petty theft is a misdemeanor punishable by:

  • Up to three years of informal probation
  • A maximum of 6 months in county jail
  • $1,000 fine

In some cases, when the property value is small, and the defendant has no previous criminal history, petty theft may be charged as an infraction and dismissed if the defendant agrees to complete theft education courses.  

What Are the Penalties for Grand Theft?

Grand theft may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the property’s value. Misdemeanor grand theft charges carry the same penalties as petty theft charges. However, if convicted of grand theft, the penalties consist of either 16 months or two to three years in state prison. 

What Is Considered Shoplifting in California?

California currently defines shoplifting as entering a commercial building with the intent to commit theft while the establishment is operating under regular business hours and where the value of the property stolen or intended to be stolen does not exceed $950. Any other entry into a commercial building intending to steal is considered burglary. 

What Are the Penalties for Shoplifting in California?

As mentioned above, the penalties faced for theft, including shoplifting, depend on the property’s value. In terms of shoplifting, the following penalties apply based on the property’s value:

  • Less than $50 dollars with no prior conviction is considered petty theft and is punishable by a fine of up to $250.
  • More than $50 but less than $950 is still a petty theft charge, but the penalties are a maximum of 6 months in county jail and a fine between $50 to $1,000.
  • More than $950 is considered grand theft with penalties of a maximum of one year in prison or jail time for 16 months.

Possible Defenses for Theft/Shoplifting Charges in California

Depending on the facts of the case, possible defenses to theft or shoplifting charges include:

  • Lack of intent: The defendant took the property but did not intend to permanently keep it.
  • Right to possession: It is not considered theft if the stolen property belongs to the defendant, and the defendant has a right to possess them.
  • Consent: The defendant had consent to take the allegedly stolen property.
  • False theft allegation: The theft never actually occurred.
  • Illegal search or seizure: Evidence obtained illegally is not admissible in court. 

An experienced theft defense attorney in California helps determine the best possible defense strategy. Their goal is to obtain the best possible resolution for your case. This may include having your charges reduced or dropped entirely. Theft charges are not something to take lightly; they impact your freedom and future. Contact a skilled attorney today to protect your rights and freedom. 

Fight Your Shoplifting Charge by Contacting Aron Law Firm Today

Theft crimes are some of the most harshly prosecuted crimes because prosecutors feel strongly about holding offenders accountable and may take extensive measures to ensure they garner a conviction. Theft charges are not something that people should try to handle on their own. The best thing you can do to protect your rights and freedom is to partner with an experienced and committed theft defense attorney. 

At Aron Law Firm, we take the time, energy, and resources necessary to understand our client’s specific needs. We tailor our services to meet the best interests of our clients. The best way to combat the long-term effects of theft convictions is to hire a skilled lawyer who will stop at nothing to obtain the best possible resolution. Contact our California theft defense attorney today to get more information by completing our contact form or call (805) 618-1768 to schedule a consultation.