Theft crimes are quite common in California. Most people who get convicted of such criminal charges are decent folks who made bad decisions. Sometimes, the individual faced with theft charges is a victim of false allegations or mistaken identity.
It's crucial to obtain a Sacramento criminal defense attorney immediately after being charged. To fight the charges successfully, one should work with Goss Law. Contact the firm today!
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Types of Theft Crimes in California
Under California law, there are various theft crimes out there, and the penalties for conviction might be harsh. Criminal defense attorneys are trained to handle these common theft crimes:
Grand theft gets defined as taking or receiving stolen property that's valued over $950 under California Penal Code 487 PC. Therefore, if someone gets caught stealing a laptop worth $1,000 from a store, they are charged with grand theft.
This is a wobbler crime in California. Therefore, the prosecution could choose to charge a defendant with a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the crime's circumstances.
Generally, there's a greater chance that a defendant will get charged with felony grand theft instead of a misdemeanor when the stolen item had a high price tag or the crime was otherwise more serious.
Here are the penalties one might face for grand theft:
Misdemeanor - One can be sent to county jail for up to one year.
Felony - One can be sent to county jail for 16 months to three years.
As indicated in the name, petty theft is less serious, but it's often prosecuted harshly. It's defined as taking property valued under $950. Shoplifting is a common form.
For example, someone steals a sweater worth $50 from a department store and gets caught. They are likely to get charged with petty theft crime.
The penalties for shoplifting and petty theft are often misdemeanors. First-timers might face up to six months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine. However, the fee amount and jail sentence significantly depend on the value of the stolen merchandise.
Burglary is defined as when someone enters a locked room, structure, or vehicle intending to commit theft or other felonies once inside under California Penal Code 459 PC. It's often avoided when homeowners install home security cameras, which deters potential burglars.
Most people assume incorrectly that burglary means "breaking and entering." However, the structure doesn't have to be locked, so "breaking" doesn't have to happen for charges to arise. Likewise, no crime must be committed once the person enters the structure. They only have to intend to commit a felony for charges to come.
Here are a few examples:
One goes into an unlocked or opened garage to steal the lawnmower and is charged with burglary.
Someone enters the mall planning to steal some jewelry, even though they didn't actually commit the theft.
The penalties for burglary depend on these factors:
First Degree - This is called residential burglary. It's a three-strikes crime and can be punishable by six or fewer years in state prison.
Second Degree - Commercial burglary is a wobbler offense, so the prosecution can charge the defendant as either a misdemeanor or felony.
Misdemeanors are often punished by a year in county jail. However, felony burglaries can see up to three years in the county jail.
Robbery (Taking or Receiving Stolen Property)
Under California law, robbery is a serious crime. Three things must happen for this charge:
The individual has to take property belonging to someone else.
The property must be on the person or in their immediate presence.
The robber must use fear or force.
With that said, breaking into someone's home and stealing jewelry while the owners sleep is considered robbery.
Robbery is always charged as a felony, but there are different penalties involved:
First-degree robbery happens when the crime is committed against vehicle drivers, people using ATMs, or within an inhabited structure. One can get three to nine years in state prison.
Second-degree robbery is the charge given in all other cases. One could get two, five, or three years in state prison.
Often, embezzlement is called a "white-collar crime" and happens when someone appropriates assets or property fraudulently. They are entrusted to the defendant and belong to someone else.
Generally, embezzlement doesn't involve thousands of dollars. A blue-collar worker can get charged with it, even if they took $100 from petty cash they were supposed to manage. Even if the defendant was only borrowing the money, intending to pay it back, this could be embezzlement.
Under the law, embezzlement can be "grand theft" if the amount embezzled exceeds $950 or the asset was a firearm or automobile. This could be a felony or misdemeanor.
Often misdemeanors get one year in jail, but felonies can see three years.
If the amount embezzled was under $950, it's a petty theft, which can lead to six months in jail.
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What to Do After Getting Charged with Theft
After being convicted of a theft crime in California, one faces significant consequences. They will see prison sentences and hefty fines, but the conviction also shows up on background checks that employers use for future employment. It might be difficult to find a job or a place to live. Sometimes, people cannot get real estate, nursing, and other professional licenses.
That's why it's crucial to work with a Sacramento theft lawyer, such as the one at Goss Law. One can work with a professional Sacramento criminal defense attorney who understands the law and puts reasonable doubt into the minds of the jury.
Fighting a Theft Crime Charge with the Help of a Criminal Defense Lawyer
Getting arrested for theft crimes can be daunting, but one has the right to remain silent and call a criminal defense attorney immediately.
It's unwise to talk to law enforcement about the theft charges, even when pressured to answer questions. Instead, it's best to contact Goss Law for a free consultation. Call (916) 313-3133 to get started.