iStock_000016771406_FullIn California, larceny and theft actually are the same crime. Either term can be used when charging an individual, as they are not separate offenses. California Penal Code 484 and 487 outline the larceny and theft laws in California. An individual arrested for this crime could face a felony or misdemeanor charge in accordance with the penal codes. An estimated value of the stolen items is determined as the basis for either a felony or misdemeanor charge. Being found in possession with illegally obtained, high-valued goods often lead to a felony charge.

Understanding Penal Codes 484 and 487

Under California’s Penal Code 484, larceny is the “unlawful, intentional and permanently taking of property that belongs to someone else.” A charge typically follows the accusation of accepting stolen items; embezzlement; forgery; identity theft; and robbery. Simply put, it is taking someone else’s property, even if it originally was rented out to you. Property not returned, including a rental vehicle or library book, could lead to a charge of larceny in California, in accordance with Penal Code 484. A charge of larceny results when law enforcement believe an intent to return the property is not existent. The charge often coincides with shoplifting, no matter the value of the item or items taken. The charge also may result after fraudulently obtaining credit or unlawfully transferring a credit or debit card to someone else and even falsifying information to obtain credit or sell an item at a pawn shop.

California Penal Code 487 states the charge of larceny is increased to the charge of grand larceny if the value of the stolen goods total approximately $950 or more; the stolen property is fowl, produce or nuts with a value more than $250; fish and related items were taken and total more than $250; a theft of a firearm took place; or the carcass of livestock was taken. Someone will face the charge of grand theft larceny when the theft involves the taking of weapons and animals, under Penal Code 487.

Larceny penalties in California

If facing a charge in California, it is important to get in contact with an aggressive, criminal defense attorney to represent you in a court of law. A prosecutor, in his or attempt to convict the accused, will work to prove the individual either took someone else’s property and kept it; was found in possession of stolen goods; and/or took an item or items without proper permission from the property owner.

An individual could face a fine of up to $1,000 and an approximate six month sentence in a county jail, if convicted of petty larceny. A conviction of grand larceny could lead to a sentence of up to year in a county jail for a misdemeanor offense or a sentence of up to three years in a county jail for a felony offense.There are a number of potential defenses for larceny charges in California. For example, the defendant may have believed that he or she were the rightful owners of the property or he or she had the intent to return it.

Contact my office to learn how a criminal defense attorney, like myself, can be of assistance in your larceny case.