Criminal Defense for Theft Crimes
A theft charge can carry severe penalties in California. Charges can range from a minor shoplifting offense to grand theft, which can be charged as a felony and may result in a state prison sentence.
There is no such thing as a "simple" theft crime. It all depends on the circumstances of the crime, such as the value of the property taken, any prior theft-related convictions, or other circumstances.
For example, a theft crime involving the Internet crosses state lines and may therefore charged as a federal crime.
Types of Theft Crimes
An offense that involves breaking into another's vehicle with the intent of committing theft or a felony offense, auto burglary is taken very seriously by law enforcement and prosecutors in California. It may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, with harsh penalties upon a conviction.
Also referred to as "breaking and entering," burglary is defined as entering another's property with the intent of committing theft or a felony. Even if the intended crime is not committed, simply entering another's property for the purpose of committing such an offense may result in criminal charges.
Carjacking is considered a violent theft crime, as it involves taking another's motor vehicle through force, threats or fear. This felony offense is punishable by up to 9 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Sentencing enhancements may apply if someone is injured or kidnapped during an alleged carjacking.
Producing, distributing and possessing counterfeit goods, from retail merchandise to prescription slips or checks, is a crime under California Penal Code §350. This offense may also qualify as a federal crime, making it extremely important to secure legal counsel as quickly as possible.
Theft, the taking of another's property without their knowledge or permission, may be classified into two primary offenses: grand theft and petty theft. Grand theft is the more serious of the two and involves the theft of property valued more than $950.
Grand Theft Auto
Theft of any motor vehicle may be considered grand theft auto, an offense that may be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. If charged as a felony, a defendant may face 16 months to 3 years in state prison.
Typically charged as a misdemeanor in California, petty theft is defined as taking another's property when valued at $950 or less. A first petty theft conviction may result in up to 180 days in jail, 3 years of informal probation, community service, restitution and fines of up to $1,000. Alternative sentencing to avoid jail time may be available in these cases.
Receiving Stolen Property
It is a crime to purchase, possess or otherwise acquire stolen property, even if you were not responsible for its theft. If a person acquires property that he or she knew or reasonably should have known was stolen, this may result in criminal charges.
Robbery is defined as taking another's property against their will, typically through the use of force, threats or fear. In California, robbery is considered a serious and violent crime, and a conviction will count as a "strike" on one's record, resulting in enhanced penalties and even life in prison for future strikes.
Generally considered a lesser theft crime and charged as petty theft, shoplifting is described as taking property from a store. This may include switching labels on merchandise to try to obtain it at a lesser price, removing tags, physically taking items from stores and even eating food from a grocery store with the intention of not paying for it.
White Collar Crimes
White collar crimes are also considered examples of theft crimes because they include embezzlement, identity theft, and fraud in business or financial areas.Extortion
Extortion can also be considered a type of theft crime, as a person is obtaining money or other valuable goods or services from another person through force or threats.