In California, no matter what you take, it is illegal to steal an item with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of their property. This means, if you take something with the intent of keeping it away from another person, you have committed theft. You may be familiar with the terms “petty theft” and “grand theft” to describe your specific theft crime. Petty theft is often referred to as “shoplifting” by the public.
What Separates the Two?
Petty theft is a bit different from grand theft because it involves stealing something that was valued at less than four hundred dollars. Grand theft is a bit more serious, which consists of more than $400 in property. Petty theft is only a misdemeanor charge while grand theft is a felony that carries time in state prison, depending on the severity. In many cases, the law also separates shoplifting, which can consist of stealing something as low as $50.
Grand theft is usually a more violent crime as well. In some situations, the defendant will use force or fear to obtain the property in question. If force and fear was used, you could also receive charges of a robbery. Sometimes, stealing a car or pet from somebody is also classified as grand theft, even when the market value is not a whole lot. This is because these items have significant value to a particular person. You could also be accused of theft when you buy or keep stolen property that you know is somebody else’s. However, the court must be able to prove that you actually intended to steal the property or somebody stole it on your behalf.
These cases can sometimes be complicated and put you at a serious risk of prison time. This is why you should tread carefully and speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call us for more information on how we are able to help.