Under California Law theft is defined under Penal Code 484 as the intentional taking of property that belongs to another party, without their consent. Petty theft, also know as petty larceny is when the property taken is valued at $400 or less, and it is not taken directly of the owner.
Certain items, such as a car or firearm, will not fall under petty theft, even if they are valued at $400 or less.
As a first offense, petty theft penalties may include, probation, restitution and monetary fines, mandatory counseling, and/or jail time for up to six months.
On top of the penalties above, if convicted on a petty theft charges, it will show up on your record and you will have to disclose it on certain applications, such as school, housing, and employment applications. This can have a devastating effect on your future and should be handle properly early on.
While most petty thefts are charged as misdemeanors, when the value of the property in question is $50 or less, the prosecutor has the discretion to charge the crime as an infraction, as long as this is the defendants first theft offense.
An infraction is the preferable outcome in this situation. This Is because it requires no jail time, and the fine for this offense is lessened to a maximum of $250.
On the other hand, the district attorney also has discretion to charge a petty theft offense as a felony if the defendant has previous theft convictions. Because the charging of a petty theft varies with the circumstances of the alleged crime, the criminal record of the defendant, and the disposition of the prosecutor, it’s vital for you to be represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.
At the Law offices of David Chesley, our expert attorneys will help you fight any type of criminal charge. With the best and most experienced attorneys on our side, we will help you through this tough situation.
CA PENAL CODE 484
484. (a) Every person who shall feloniously steal, take, carry, lead, or drive away the personal property of another, or who shall fraudulently appropriate property which has been entrusted to him or her, or who shall knowingly and designedly, by any false or fraudulent representation or pretense, defraud any other person of money, labor or real or personal property, or who causes or procures others to report falsely of his or her wealth or mercantile character and by thus imposing upon any person, obtains credit and thereby fraudulently gets or obtains possession of money, or property or obtains the labor or service of another, is guilty of theft. In determining the value of the property obtained, for the purposes of this section, the reasonable and fair market value shall be the test, and in determining the value of services received the contract price shall be the test. If there be no contract price, the reasonable and going wage for the service rendered shall govern. For the purposes of this section, any false or fraudulent representation or pretense made shall be treated as continuing, so as to cover any money, property or service received as a result thereof, and the complaint, information or indictment may charge that the crime was committed on any date during the particular period in question. The hiring of any additional employee or employees without advising each of them of every labor claim due and unpaid and every judgment that the employer has been unable to meet shall be prima facie evidence of intent to defraud. (b) (1) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another person pursuant to a written contract, and that property has a value greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000) and is not a commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner within 10 days after the owner has made written demand by certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented. (2) Except as provided in Section 10855 of the Vehicle Code, where a person has leased or rented the personal property of another person pursuant to a written contract, and where the property has a value no greater than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or where the property is a commonly used household item, intent to commit theft by fraud shall be rebuttably presumed if the person fails to return the personal property to its owner within 20 days after the owner has made written demand by certified or registered mail following the expiration of the lease or rental agreement for return of the property so leased or rented. (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (b), if one presents with criminal intent identification which bears a false or fictitious name or address for the purpose of obtaining the lease or rental of the personal property of another, the presumption created herein shall apply upon the failure of the lessee to return the rental property at the expiration of the lease or rental agreement, and no written demand for the return of the leased or rented property shall be required. (d) The presumptions created by subdivisions (b) and (c) are presumptions affecting the burden of producing evidence. (e) Within 30 days after the lease or rental agreement has expired, the owner shall make written demand for return of the property so leased or rented. Notice addressed and mailed to the lessee or renter at the address given at the time of the making of the lease or rental agreement and to any other known address shall constitute proper demand. Where the owner fails to make such written demand the presumption created by subdivision (b) shall not apply.