Defense for Penal Code 488: Petty TheftHave you been charged recently with petty theft in the State of California? If so, it is important to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help determine the best defense approach to take in court. A skilled defense lawyer may be able to reduce the charge and its consequences, specifically if you are a first time offender. The crime of petty theft is addressed in California through Penal Code 488. If you have been charged for violating California Penal Code 488, you most likely are facing a possible conviction for a misdemeanor offense, which does come with consequences, if you are found guilty. Maybe, you just had a temporary lapse of judgement, however. Hiring the “right” criminal defense attorney for the case can be beneficial. He or she can help you understand the charge that has been brought against you and possibly convince a judge to “go easy” on you for your mistake.

What Does Petty Theft Involve?
In California, a person may be charged with the crime of petty theft if he or she has taken property valued at $950 or less, in accordance with Penal Code 488. California law defines the theft of crime as the taking of someone else’s property, unlawfully. The most common form of petty theft is known as “theft by larceny.” This simply means the taking of another person’s property. Someone also may be charged with petty theft through “theft by trick;” theft by embezzlement;” and “theft by fraud.” “Theft by trick” could be the act of changing a price tag to a lower amount to pay less for an item, for example. “Theft by embezzlement” is taking something you were put in charge of, which is money in most cases. Lastly, “theft by fraud” is lying to a person to get him or her to hand over something of theirs that you want, which typically is money, as well. Shoplifting from a store and taking items valued at $950 or less also may result in a charge of petty theft in California.

Petty Theft Consequences
In accordance with California Penal Code 488, petty theft is a misdemeanor crime in the state. A first time offender, if convicted, could face a fine of up to $1,000 and a county jail sentence of up to six months. Sometimes, a person convicted of petty theft in California must pay a fine and serve time in jail.3

Defenses for Petty Theft
Identifying an appropriate defense for your petty theft case is important. Your criminal defense attorney may be able to get your charge reduced or dismissed. Perhaps, you did not intend to take anything and the charge was a misunderstanding. Maybe, the item you took first belonged to you. You may have been charged with the crime of petty theft but you are being accused falsely. If you have not yet obtained a criminal lawyer to help defend you, contact the Law Office of Peter Blair today to set up a free consultation.