The crime of petty theft in California is the unlawful taking of someone else’s property. If the property taken is valued at $950 or less, and is not of a special type (like a car or a firearm), AND is not taken directly off of the person it belong to (as in a mugging), then it is considered petty theft. Petty theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the number of prior theft offense. Taking property worth $950 or more is grand theft and can be also be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
The vast majority of petty theft charges stem from shoplifting cases. However, there are other forms of theft that sometime give rise to petty theft charges, including theft by trick (for example, changing the price tag on an item in a store), theft by embezzlement, and theft by fraud (telling a lie in order to persuade someone else to give you their property).
There are certain legal defenses that can be very helpful in fighting a petty theft charge. Potential defenses include: i) you did not intend to steal or shoplift the item; or ii) the item actually belonged to you; or iii) the person who owned the item consented to you taking it.
If you are charged with petty theft, an experienced criminal defense attorney evaluate your defenses and try to use them to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Call Attorney Robbi A. Cook at 510-208-5051 for a free consultation if you have been charged with petty theft or similar charges.