Secs 484 and 488 of the California Penal Code define theft as the unlawful taking of another individual’s property. Before, the two were considered as two separate and distinct offenses but now it has been joined under one umbrella theft case.

Petty theft would be charged when the property taken is valued at no more than $950. This is often called shoplifting and is committed in any of the following ways:

• Through larceny or the stealing and carrying away of the property of another without consent. This is the most common manner of shoplifting.
• Through trickery or the employment of actions that allow the taker to take possession of the item for lesser value;
• Through embezzlement or through the unlawful deprivation of property that was entrusted to the taker;
• Through false pretenses or the use of false representations to obtain possession of the property;

These crimes are differentiated from grand theft that is committed under Sec 487 of the California Penal Code. The main differences are the value of property or services that were stolen and the punishment imposable. Grand theft crimes are those whose properties stolen are valued above $950.

The elements of the crime of petty theft are as follows:

• The accused had committed the crime of theft;
• The property was valued at no more than $950;

Theft is committed when the accused feloniously intended to temporarily or permanently deprives another individual of money or personal property that would deny the owner of the major portion of the property’s value or enjoyment or defrauds another out of land or some other service.

The imposable penalties for petty theft are the following:

• Three (3) years of informal probation maximum;
• Imprisonment of up to six (6) months in county jail;
• Payment of fines of up to $1,000;

This crime though can be discharged but there are accessory penalties imposable such as repayment of the merchandise’s value, completion of number of community service hours and attendance in anti-theft classes. If there was a previous conviction under Sec 666, then the imposable penalty would be one (1) year maximum in county jail if it’s misdemeanor offense or sixteen (16) to forty eight (48) months for a felony offense.

There is also an implication when the crime is committed by an alien or immigrant. This crime is considered as a crime of moral turpitude and thus has implications on deportation. Also there are sentencing enhancements involved when there are prior convictions.

The crime of petty theft and shoplifting is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.