California has a problem with high theft rates. You hear about theft on the news, read about it in the news paper and most likely have had something stolen from you or someone close to you. A tough economy and decreasing job prospects can make theft worth the risk of being caught for some. Today, you can steal someone's car, purse, credit cards, cash, jewelry or even their identity. Theft belongs to a group of crimes that are categorized under larceny. Theft is a larceny charge that covers the removal of someone's property without their consent and with the intent to take whatever you stole into your possession, to include using it for your benefit. This is the most common notion of theft. Crimes under this statue could include pickpocketing someone, burglarizing their house or car, mugging them on the street or stealing their personal information. Usually, petty theft is a misdemeanor in California. If the value of what was stolen is under $950, and the offender has no prior theft convictions, it will be charged as misdemeanor petty theft. If the value is under $950 but the offender has any prior theft charges, then they could be charged with a felony. If the value of what was stolen exceeds $950, it will be charged as grand theft. There are exceptions to this limit of $950; with certain protected items, like livestock or agricultural products, the limit for a misdemeanor charge is much lower. Stealing a firearm or a car are automatic grand theft felony charges, regardless of the value of the item. The penalties for a petty theft charge are a fine not exceeding $1000 and/or up to six months in a county jail. For a grand theft charge, the jail term will be up to one year in a county jail and either 2 or 3 years if the theft is of a firearm. Sine the difference between petty and grand theft, and sometimes the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, is a matter of value, challenging the estimated value of the thing stolen is a possible point of defense in court. Consult with an experiment California criminal defense attorney if you have been accused of petty or grand theft. They will be able to recommend a plan for your defense in court. Theft is actually a common criminal charge in California and other highly populated areas. Sometimes theft can be unintentional or even accidental. It can be hard to find evidence for theft and so it is possible to be falsely accused of theft. If you are being accused of theft, inform yourself on what the prosecution must prove to convict you of such a charge. Regardless of how long you had the item or what you were going to do with it (e.g. you were going to give it back), you can be charged with theft if you knowingly took someone else's property away from them without their consent with the intent to possess the property yourself for your use (even if you immediately sell it). Despite theft being a common charge, it is sometimes hard to produce hard evidence that something was taken into your possession. The prosecution must have some evidence to convict you, however weak. The evidence must demonstrate you knowingly took the property from someone without their consent with the intent to posses the property. Intent is important here. If you took something you thought was your own, you cannot be charged with theft. For example, if you accidently took DVDs from a friend you thought were yours, you cannot be charged with theft. Also important is the intent you had behind removing the item or thing. If you had genuinely good intentions, you cannot be charged with theft. For example, if you took something from someone you cared about to have something done to it as a surprise, with the intent to give it back, you cannot be charged with theft. This is all under the condition that your story is believable in court and you present yourself and your intentions in an honest light. Theft is a complex charge; make sure you are aware of theft laws in California and the potential ramifications of a theft charge.
If you are facing theft charges, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. Contact our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.