Los Angeles Theft Crimes Attorney
Theft crimes in California cover a broad range of offenses. If you have been charged with a theft crime, the severity of the offense will vary according to a number of different factors. These include, among other things, the nature of the theft and the value of the property allegedly taken.
At CBS Law, we are experienced in these matters. We know how to analyze the case against our client, how to investigate the specifics of the charge, and how to spot weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. In the final analysis, we will do whatever we can to have the case against our client dismissed, to have the charges reduced, or, if the matter goes to trial, to obtain a verdict of not guilty. Call us for a free, confidential consultation.
“I felt like I was in a nightmare. Chris literally saved my life.” – Jesus L.
How is Theft Defined in California?
There is no single definition that encompasses all acts that are considered theft under the California Penal Code. Larceny is defined in PC 484 as stealing, taking, or driving away property of another person. The term also encompasses numerous other activities, among them fraudulently obtaining property entrusted to a person (commonly known as embezzlement), fraudulently obtaining the property or the money of another person, and many other related acts. The following are just some examples of separately defined theft and theft-related crimes in California:
- Credit card offenses. The is a broad category which includes the knowing use of another person’s credit card and related acts with intent to defraud.
- Failure to return property you leased.
- Obtaining construction loan proceeds utilizing a false voucher. This is another example of embezzlement under the Penal Code.
- Theft of dogs, horses, and other animals.
- Theft of copper wire, firearms, and other specific items.
- Selling goods using false information concerning ownership.
- False pretenses.
Each of these offenses has different elements, and they carry different classifications and different penalties. An experienced theft crimes lawyer can explain the specifics of your charge, the potential consequences if you are convicted, and defenses that may be available in your case.
Classification of Theft Offenses in California
The classification of theft offenses is complex, and often consists not only of the specific method of theft, but also the value of the property involved, the nature of the items allegedly stolen, your criminal history, and other factors. Here are a few examples:
- Petty theft of goods or services having a value of $950 or less, with no other factors affecting the offense, is a misdemeanor. But if the offense involves a credit card, or a weapon, for example, it may in some cases be charged as a felony.
- Grand theft is generally a wobbler, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. It includes not only goods valued in excess of $950, but also specific types of property.
- Shoplifting. The offense of shoplifting is defined in PC 459.5. Briefly, it involves retail theft of property having a value of $950 or less. It is a misdemeanor (or in some cases an infraction). There are times when theft is charged as a felony, while the actual charge should be shoplifting. We assist clients who are charged with a more serious offense than the circumstances warrant.
While the basic rules appear simple, there are many other factors that can affect both the classification of a theft offense, and the possible sentence if you are convicted. This is exemplified by the rules concerning shoplifting.
Shoplifting is a Misdemeanor, Unless!
The following examples show how a charge can increase in severity even though the underlying offense is shoplifting:
- Example 1: You are accused of shoplifting. The item you allegedly stole from the store is a pistol worth less than $950. The offense will be charged as a felony because of the nature of the item taken.
- Example 2: You are charged with shoplifting, and you have a prior conviction for an offense requiring registration under the Sex Offender Registration Act. The offense can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
- Example 3: You are “shoplifting” in a store during non-business hours. You could be charged with burglary, generally a wobbler.
These are just a few examples of the way in which many different factors can affect the specifics and the potential consequences of a theft charge.
“From the moment I met Chris, I knew I was in good hands.” – Kevin H.
Defenses to Theft Charges
As with all criminal charges, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That includes each and every element of the crime. In the case of theft offenses, questions often arise as to intent, that is, you did not know that the property in question did not belong to you, or you believed you were authorized to take/transfer it. In other cases, the owner of the property may have given you their consent prior to your exercising control over that property. Finally, in some cases the charge rests heavily on eyewitness testimony, which is often unreliable.
Los Angeles Theft Crimes Lawyer
The important fact to understand is that you are innocent until proven guilty, and that in many cases, one or more plausible defenses exist. At CBS Law, our experience defending theft crimes gives us an advantage, enabling us to exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. Using that experience, we are able to provide you with the best possible outcome if you are charged with a theft crime call CBS Law at (213) 800-8005.
“When you’re accused of something you didn’t do, the thought of losing everything can be overwhelming. My job isn’t to walk you through the process, my job is to get your life back.”
Christopher J. Bou Saeed Founding Attorney of CBS Law