Los Angeles Theft Crimes Lawyer
Arrested for theft in Los Angeles, CA? Any theft conviction can have serious, life-changing consequences. Depending on the offense and whether you have priors, you may even be facing a lengthy prison sentence.
The Rodriguez Law Group has represented clients against serious criminal offenses for more than 20 years. Our law firm will help you fight for your rights and your future. Contact our law office today at (213) 995-6767 to schedule a free case review with a Los Angeles theft crimes lawyer to find out how we can help you.
How the Rodriguez Law Group Can Help if You’re Arrested for Theft in Los Angeles
Theft crimes are taken very seriously in Los Angeles, California. Even a misdemeanor theft conviction comes with potential jail time. When you are accused of theft, you deserve an experienced Los Angeles theft crimes attorney who will fight for you.
The Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys at The Rodriguez Law Group are here to help. Founding attorney Ambrosio E. Rodriguez began his criminal law career as a Senior Deputy District Attorney. He gained 13 years of insight into the tactics the state will use against you. He has represented clients as a criminal defense lawyer for more than 20 years and boasts a 10.0 Superb AVVO rating.
Choose The Rodriguez Law Group to help you fight your theft charge and we will:
- Offer legal guidance and protect your constitutional rights
- Explore defense strategies that offer the best chance of success in your case
- Search for exculpatory evidence to prove innocence or raise reasonable doubt
- Negotiate for a satisfactory plea bargain and alternative punishments like informal probation or a diversion program
The Rodriguez Law Group is here to give you the vigorous legal defense you deserve. Call our firm today for a free case review with a Los Angeles theft defense lawyer who will fight for you every step of the way.
Overview of Theft Crimes in California
Theft is one of the most common criminal offenses in California and it comes in many forms. Penal Code 484 PC, is the statute that makes it a crime to take someone else’s property, a crime generally called “theft.”
Theft is generally classified as either petty theft, or the theft of property worth $950 or less, or grand theft for property exceeding $950. However, not all theft offenses fall under these classifications. Theft may be charged under many criminal statutes.
The following are the most common types of theft crimes in California.
Under California Penal Code 488 PC, petty theft is unlawfully taking property worth $950 or less.
This offense can be charged when:
- The defendant took possession of someone else’s property,
- The property was taken without the owner’s permission,
- The defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property, and
- The defendant moved the property and kept it for some amount of time.
Petty theft comes in many forms including theft by embezzlement, trick, larceny, or false pretenses.
Petty theft is a misdemeanor.
Petty theft with a prior may be charged under PC Section 666. This offense may be a misdemeanor or felony and it’s charged when someone has a prior theft conviction, served jail or prison time, and also has a prior conviction for a certain violent offense or sex crime.
Penal Code 487 PC classifies grand theft as unlawfully taking someone else’s property that is valued at more than $950. Grand theft is a “wobbler” that may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
Grand theft can be a confusing offense in California, especially since the passage of Proposition 47. Previously, certain types of theft such as grand theft auto and firearm theft were automatically “grand theft” felonies regardless of the value of the property. Under Prop 47, you can only be charged with a misdemeanor if the value of the property is under $950.
Under Penal Code 211 PC, robbery is defined as taking personal property from someone’s person or in their immediate presence against their will through fear or force. Robbery is a serious felony with harsh penalties.
Robbery can be charged in two degrees:
- First-degree robbery involves robbery of a passenger or driver on a bus, subway, etc; someone in an inhabited structure. or someone using or near an ATM.
- Second-degree robbery refers to any other form of robbery.
First-degree robbery can be committed in many ways. For example, breaking into someone’s home (burglary) while they are home and threatening them with harm before stealing their belongings is first-degree robbery. This scenario would also result in a burglary charge.
Burglary is a serious offense under California Penal Code 459 PC. Burglary is defined as entering a commercial or residential building with the intent to commit a theft or felony. Simply entering the building with intent is enough to commit burglary even if the theft or felony is not completed.
There are two degrees of burglary:
- First-degree burglary is burglary of a residence
- Second-degree burglary is burglary of a commercial property or other structure
First-degree burglary is always a felony. Second-degree burglary is a “wobbler” and may be a misdemeanor or felony.
Burglary may also come in other forms.
Auto burglary is a subset of PC Section 459 and it refers to entering a locked car or trunk with the intent to steal property or the vehicle or commit another felony inside. Auto burglary is a misdemeanor or felony. This is a form of second-degree burglary.
Surprisingly, shoplifting is also a form of burglary in California under PC Section 459.5. Shoplifting differs from petty theft in that there is an intent to steal when entering a store. Shoplifting is a misdemeanor when the value of stolen property is under $950.
Carjacking is a violent theft offense under Penal Code 215 PC. This crime involves taking a vehicle from someone else by fear or force. Carjacking is a “strike” offense under the California Three Strikes law.
Receiving Stolen Property
Penal Code 496 PC makes it a crime to buy, conceal, sell, or receive property you know or have reason to believe is stolen. It can be punished as harshly as actually stealing the property. Depending on the circumstances, receiving stolen property is a misdemeanor or a felony.
White Collar Theft Crimes
Some forms of theft in Los Angeles are considered white collar crimes.
Common examples of white collar theft include:
- Identity Theft, PC Section 530.5
- Embezzlement, PC Section 503
- Money laundering, PC Section 186.10
- Fraud or theft by false pretenses, PC Section 532
White collar crimes can be very serious misdemeanors or felonies. Some of these offenses may result in multiple charges. For example, each act of identity theft results in a separate offense.
Other Los Angeles Theft Crimes
In addition to the common types of theft above, California Penal Code also defines the following types of theft offenses.
- Possession of burglary tools, PC Section 466
- Writing a bad check, PC Section 476a
- Credit card fraud, PC Section 484e
- Forgery, PC Section 470
- Making or selling counterfeit goods, PC Section 350
- Mail theft, PC 530.5e
These theft offenses can be misdemeanors or felonies.
What Are the Penalties for Theft in Los Angeles, California?
A theft offense can carry very serious penalties that depend on many factors. Depending on the charge and even the circumstances, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
However, sentencing can be enhanced for many theft crimes if the offense involves bodily injury, gang activity, or a firearm. Some theft offenses qualify as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law with enhanced punishments. You may also face harsher penalties if you have a prior criminal record.
You may face the following sentences for misdemeanor theft offenses.
- Petty theft: up to 6 months in county jail
- Misdemeanor shoplifting: up to 6 months in county jail
- Misdemeanor petty theft with a prior: up to 1 year in jail
- Misdemeanor grand theft: up to 1 year in jail
- Misdemeanor second-degree burglary: up to 1 year in jail
- Misdemeanor receiving stolen property: up to 1 year in county jail
You may face the following sentences for felony theft offenses.
- Felony petty theft with a prior: up to three years in jail
- Felony shoplifting: up to 3 years in jail
- Felony grand theft: 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail
- Felony receiving stolen property: up to 3 years in state prison
- First-degree burglary: up to 4 years in a state prison
- Felony second-degree burglary: up to 3 years in county jail
- First-degree robbery: up to 9 years in state prison
- Second-degree robbery: 2, 3, or 5 years in state prison
- Carjacking: 3, 6, or 9 years in state prison
Note that carjacking is a “strike” offense. Your sentence can be doubled or you may face life in prison with prior strikes. You may face an enhanced sentence if you injure the victim, use a firearm, kidnap someone, or commit the crime to benefit a gang.
For a first-time offense, many misdemeanor theft charges qualify for summary or informal probation or diversion programs. These options can allow you to avoid jail time and a criminal record.
For more serious theft offenses, particularly felonies, you may be sentenced to formal probation as an alternative to jail or prison time.
What Defenses Can Be Raised if I’m Accused of Theft in Los Angeles, CA?
There may be many possible legal defenses in theft cases. The best defense strategy will depend on the type of theft offense you are facing, the evidence against you, and whether you have a criminal record.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers may recommend the following strategies.
- Claim of right, a defense in some types of theft in which you assert that you thought you had a right to the property, even if the belief was incorrect.
- You did not have the intent to commit the offense. Some offenses, such as burglary, require entering with an intent to commit a theft or felony. If you did not have the intent to commit the crime, you may have the charge reduced.
- You did not have the intent to deprive the owner of the property permanently. You will need to show you were borrowing the property with the intention of returning it.
- You acted with the owner’s consent or you believed you had permission to use the property.
- You were falsely accused or you are the victim of mistaken identity.
- You did not intentionally steal someone else’s property. For example, you may have accidentally removed merchandise from a store.
We will also help you defend yourself by exploring whether your constitutional rights were violated. If so, evidence against you can be excluded to weaken the prosecution’s case. We will also fight for a satisfactory plea bargain that avoids jail time and/or a criminal record.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a Los Angeles Theft Crimes Lawyer
When you have been arrested for theft, it’s important to act quickly to protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Contact The Rodriguez Law Group today to immediately get to work on your defense. A Los Angeles theft crimes lawyer at our law firm can help you explore the best legal defenses available to you.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm also provides:
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- Assault Attorney in LA
- Federal Crimes Attorney in Los Angeles
- Los Angeles, CA White Collar Crimes Attorney
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- Los Angeles, CA Drug Crimes Attorney
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Last Updated on April 18, 2023